Is Voluntary Local Review only for show or a genuine means of transformation? Observations on discussions about localising the SDGs at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

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In July, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) observed stronger voices and a renewed commitment from local and sub-national actors. Over the past years, participation has demonstrated the importance and potential for transformative change of local and regional actors working on sustainability. While the challenges remain in regards to geographical data disaggregation and lack of local governments engagement in the Voluntary National Review (VNR), resulting in an incomplete picture of local progress on the SDGs. Against this background, Voluntary Local Review (VLR) recently gained the momentum as it can provide 1. enhanced monitoring of local progress, 2. multi-layered multi-stakeholder engagement, and 3. acceleration of SDG localisation. However, it has an issue of misappropriation. Exploring how to use VLRs and enhance VNRs are the open questions. To accelerate the implementation of the SDGs, there should be more dialogue and responsive national governance to the needs and demands of local and regional governments.