The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are global goals set forth with the vision of improving life for all of us. Launched by the United Nations, the 17 SDGs and include ending poverty, reducing inequality, protecting and restoring our planet, creating peace, and so much more.
Each of these goals is broken down into targets and indicators, offering a granular approach with specific milestones. Of the 169 targets described within the 17 SDGs, two-thirds of these targets (about 112 of them!) are said to be unsolvable without the direct involvement of local cities.
Whether you personally were aware of the SDGs or no, many cities around the world are now working on the SDGs at the local level, incorporating the philosophy of these goals into city management and administrative projects.
The question of course, is how do we know that our cities are actually tackling the issues at hand, and how much is there still left to do? That’s where Voluntary Local Reviews come into play.
The Voluntary Municipal Review (VLR) is a report that cities produce voluntarily that examines the progress of SDGs efforts within that city. It’s a way for cities to hold themselves accountable, and to dictate where efforts need to be pushed in the future. Beyond being just a report, a VLR is in its own way a process of the localization of the SDGs.
In December 2021, New York City and UN Habitat (United Nations Human Settlement Program) published a report summarizing the impacts of the VLRs published worldwide thus far, including the efforts of Yokohama City, Japan as one of the forefront cities promoting the SDGs.
Yokohama City announced and released its first VLR in October 2021. Back in 2019, Yokohama agreed to and signed the VLR Declaration, proposed by the City of New York, which prompted Yokohama to produce its own VLR. This was facilitated by both cities being members of the SDGs Leadership Cities Network, presided over by the Brookings Institute. Yokohama is honored to be able to collaborate with New York City, which is demonstrating cross-border leadership as a city promoting the SDGs, as well as all of the cities around the world producing VLRs and learning from the efforts of other cities.
To date, more than 330 cities around the world have signed the VLR Declaration, according to New York City, and the VLR movement is spreading around the world. A full list of the currently published VLRs around the world can be found on the United Nations website. With cities globally taking accountability for their actions, dedicating themselves to improving life for their citizens, and paving the way for the accomplishment of the SDGs, we are sure to see important change coming out of new local policy in the future.
Leading Locally: The Origins and Impact of the Voluntary Local Review