Giving Compass' Take:

• More cities are reporting their Voluntary Local Review, a report submitted to the U.N. detailing specific city contributions toward SDG achievement. To encourage this trend, a team of students from Carnegie Mellon University created a prototype handbook for cities interested in submitting a VLR. 

• How is your city contributing to SDG progress? Can donors help with this effort?

• Read more about scaling local SDG implementation through city leadership. 

As 47 countries get ready to report their progress next week on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations’ annual check-in (the High-level Political Forum, or HLPF), a quiet revolution is brewing below the surface. Cities worldwide are preparing their own reviews despite not being parties to the agreement nor an official part of the formal review activities—translating the national and global aspirations of the SDGs into progress at the local level.

Last summer New York City pioneered the first-ever Voluntary Local Review (VLR) to the U.N. to report its local contributions to the SDGs, presenting a city-specific review based on the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) that countries formally submit to the U.N.

Cities are being innovative in their processes and uses for a VLR, targeting different audiences and initiating the reviews at different junctures of their SDG localization. Since there is no universally accepted set of locally adapted targets based on the SDGs, nor official indicators or metrics, there is a great deal of flexibility in undertaking such an assessment. At the same time, the open-endedness can make it hard to get started and could potentially threaten the tool’s credibility if VLRs become no more than rhetorical devices.

Within this context, a team of students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy—Niki Deininger, Jason Griess, Yasu Lu, and Robert Santamaria—developed this prototype handbook for city officials interested in doing a VLR.

Read the full article about handbook to help cities with Sustainable Development Goals by Anthony F. Pipa at Brookings.