New Resource - Voluntary Local Review Briefs

Monday, August 16, 2021

SDSN Canada and Green Beacon are proud to launch a new learning resource for cities and community organizations looking to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Three Voluntary Local Review (VLR) Briefs have been created, summarizing the experiences of localizing the SDGs in the cities of Los Angeles (USA), Pittsburgh (USA), and Bristol (UK).

Inspired by the process that countries use to report SDG progress to the United Nations, VLRs are a reporting tool that explore how current City actions and priorities contribute to the SDGs. When done well, creating a VLR helps to integrate the SDGs into City planning with the opportunity to make local sustainability efforts more comprehensive and coordinated and aligned with the community around principles of transparency, inclusion, and engagement.

Each of the three VLR Briefs highlights the different approaches used by these three cities to integrate and embed the SDGs into City structures and planning. Each brief explores a common set of criteria to tell more of the 'behind-the-scenes' story on how each city created their VLR, including sections on political buy-in, working with partners outside of the City, and accountability and transparency mechanisms.

Highlights from the three VLR Briefs include:

  • The presence of the 'SDG Alliance' in Bristol that included many of the community's anchor institutions convening regular dialogues about the SDGs.
  • Alignment with the City of Bristol’s 'One City Plan', acting as a backbone for the VLR and enshrining the SDGs in planning to 2050.
  • The City of Los Angeles's four-step SDG localization methodology, focusing on mapping and aligning current City strategies to the SDGs, identifying gaps in planning, localizing indicators to the L.A. context, and mobilizing community partnerships.
  • A recognition in Pittsburgh of the importance in socializing City staff to the SDGs in order to help shift the culture of the City toward sustainable development and create more collaborative opportunities for departments to work with each other.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, many city leaders are looking to the SDGs to mainstream the principles of equity and sustainability into decision-making. In dealing with the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world and climate, the SDGs lay the foundations for the transformations needed if we are to “build forward better” and VLRs are the planning tool to help define the pathways to get there.

Join us on August 24th for our workshop SDGs Localization: From Recovery to Resilience to hear directly from the cities of Los Angeles and Bristol on their VLR experiences. The workshop will also feature discussion on mobilizing community partnerships for the SDGs, and will be a launch event for a new community of practice we are co-hosting on SDG localization in Canada.