Yokohama City was invited to participate in the recently held 12th High Level Seminar on Sustainable Cities (organized by Ministry of the Environment, Japan, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Lao PDR, ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC), and ASEAN Secretariat) to discuss the promotion of Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia. The Sustainable Cities High Level Seminar is an annual event that brings together policy makers, experts, and other professionals focused on sustainable urban development in East and Southeast Asia. This 12th Seminar was held across two days, from February 21 to 22, and the promotion of VLRs was at the forefront of this years’ discussions.
Ryoichiro Orii, the Executive Director of Yokohama’s International Affairs Bureau, took the stage while representing Yokohama City, seeking to share with other Seminar participants Yokohama’s approach to its own recently published VLR, focusing on answering three main questions: “Why did Yokohama create a VLR?” “How was it created?” and “What has the city done thus far to localize the SDGs?” He also introduced Yokohama’s efforts toward intercity cooperation and mentioned the idea of incorporating VLR know-how into that cooperation in the future.
Yokohama City is focusing on three aspects of the VLR: that of an “urban management process,” of a “communication tool,” and of a “global movement.” In other words, the city will utilize the framework of the SDGs to focus on three areas: verifying the progress and effectiveness of policies and utilizing that data to create better policies in the future; sharing the city’s experience in promoting the SDGs and contributing to global solutions; and elevating local actions to the global stage.
Yokohama is also working with the partners of the city’s “Y-PORT Program” to seek solutions for the urban issues affecting cities in developing countries, starting in Southeast Asia. The process of solving urban problems through the Y-PORT program has been closely related to the VLR, in that both a similar process of understanding urban issues, making a program or plan for solving them, monitoring the progress of said program, and reviewing that progress.
Yokohama will continue to share information regarding the formulation of VLRs with partner cities and offer its cooperation with various stakeholders to achieve the SDGs and improve local areas and the world.