Below are some highlights for municipalities and regions looking to develop indicators relevant to the local context, track sustainability progress, or learn more about how a VLR can support Agenda 2030 governance, mainstreaming, and reporting.
It is not about the size of your city or municipality;
Any small, medium-sized, or large city can get started. As Helsingborg emphasised, SDG progress reporting could be even more comprehensible in a smaller city because the processes of choosing indicators and/or drafting a VLR might require less coordination. Do not let resources and capacity be a hindrance to kickstarting the work. Leaders from Asker also concur that the size of the municipality is not of great importance for implementing SDGs.
VLRs can support horizontal and vertical SDG action.
The horizontal VLR process enables municipalities to share experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned from their local sustainability work among on another or with other stakeholders, which can foster partnerships and investment towards the achievement of the SDGs across the Nordics. When it comes to vertical SDG action—national to regional to local knowledge exchange—increasing alignment between a country’s VLRs, VSRs, and VNRs could help strengthen policy cohesion around Agenda 2030 and beyond.
Determining the right indicators is a multi-step process, but it will be key to measuring progress.
Indicators with high-quality data to measure SDG progress exist at the national level in the Nordic countries, but these may not always correspond to local needs and targets. Adopting existing indicator systems as well as learning from municipalities who have well-developed systems and data collection methods may be useful when starting out. In 2021, for instance, Statistics Norway and KS developed a Norwegian taxonomy for the classification of any indicator relevant for the SDGs. The taxonomy identifies 469 relevant indicators, but not all will or need to apply to every municipality. Developing the right indicators may therefore involve some trial and error. The Nordic municipal and regional associations are resources to which local leaders can reach out for assistance.