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Source: Small Island Developing States

July 2019: United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) released guidance to support local governments and associations in reporting Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The module shares case studies and best practices from around the world.

The online module titled, ‘SDGs Learning Module 3: Reporting to National and Local Reviews,’ aims to enhance the involvement of local and regional government associations (LRGAs) in the preparation of national VNRs and to help LRGAs develop their own reports on the involvement of local and regional governments in localizing the SDGs. The module describes the role of LRGAs in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including a description of their roles in raising awareness, such as helping citizens understand SDG implementation in their areas and participating in the VNR process. LRGAs also play an advocacy role and can support implementation through promoting exchange of best practices and promoting coherent implementation across sectoral ministries and different levels of government.

The module provides an introduction to SDG reporting processes, and outlines ways LRGAs can participate in these processes. UCLG highlights two key lessons learned from drafting the UCLG Local and Regional Governments’ Report to the 2017 HLPF. First, fewer than half of the VNR consultations and one-third of the follow-up mechanisms related to local government organizations. UCLG therefore argues that greater efforts are needed to involve local and regional governments (LRGs) in the VNRs for coordination and follow-up, and recommends that national governments and UN institutions develop “multi-level spaces for dialogue and joint action.” Second, UCLG calls for new institutional frameworks to promote more collaboration between different levels of government.

The module then reflects on how to collect local data and information and draft the LRGAs’ own reviews. According to the module, the most common methodology for data collection is to conduct a survey with both local and regional governments and local stakeholders that contains specific questions on SDG implementation at the local level. The module explains that this process helps to identify local and regional government priorities that can be recognized within national SDG strategies as well as any major gaps between national strategies and local and regional government priorities. As an illustration, the module shares Colombia’s experience with a review on how the country’s territories plan to incorporate the SDGs in their development plans.

On VLRs, the report recognizes New York City’s VLR presentation to the 2018 HLPF as critical in raising awareness on the potential of cities to present individual efforts towards implementing the SDGs at the local level. UCLG identifies several options for cities to share their efforts, including: submitting a city report on the ‘Localizing the SDGs’ website, a joint initiative by UCLG, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); submitting city experiences for inclusion in the UCLG report presented to the HLPF; and contributing local government experiences in respective VNRs. The module then suggests options for organizing VLRs, and reflects on how to produce reports that help local governments better deliver the SDGs.

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) also maintains an online platform that showcases Voluntary Local Reviews: the VLR Lab.

The UCLG module is the third in a series developed by UCLG in collaboration with UNDP, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, UN-Habitat and Diputacio Barcelona. The European Commission (EC) provided financial support for the module. Learning Module 1 focused on ‘Localizing the SDGs,’ and Learning Module 2 addressed ‘The SDGs as the Roadmap for the Planning Process at the Territorial Level.’

Mayors and other municipal leaders reflected on their experiences in VLRs at a Local2030 network special event in July on the sidelines of the 2019 HLPF. Participants highlighted the importance of cities preparing VLRs, including to provide cities with a common language and visions and to set priorities and evaluate outcomes in line with the Goals’ targets and indicators. [Publication: SDGs Learning Module 3: Reporting to National and Local Reviews] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Local2030 Event] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on NYC VLR]

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