What is a Voluntary Local Review?  

Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) are, according to UCLG and UN-Habitat (2020), reports published by local authorities to assess and present how the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda is developing from a local standpoint. VLRs have been identified as a potential vehicle to advance local action and foster holistic cooperation across public administration departments. VLRs have contributed to engagement and innovation on data production and management at the local level. Through participatory processes, a VLR may also help communities to make decisions and communicate a strong narrative while increasing the relevance of local governments as key actors to deliver results towards the global sustainability goals. Conducting a VLR can act as a self-auditing tool for municipalities to analyse local progress, successes, or barriers to implementing sustainable development according to the 17 SDGs. For many cities, VLRs have helped mobilise multi-level dialogues and have made national governments more aware of localisation efforts through connections with Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) or Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs).  
 
There is currently no fixed format for developing a VLR, but several templates and instructive reports have been created to help generate ideas and provide an outline for municipalities interested in conducting their own review. All VLRs which have been submitted to the UN are publicly accessible online. 
As of 2021, 14 VLRs have come from Nordic municipalities or counties. Many published their first reports in 2021, which speaks to the growing interest among local and regional authorities to use VLRs in SDG work. Mainly larger cities have published VLRs in the Nordic Region, reflecting a need for arenas where more actors can share lessons learned, experiences, and practicalities on how to evaluate work with Agenda 2030. Submitting a VLR can be part of this effort, but there are also other ways to monitor and review local SDG work if submitting a VLR is beyond a municipality’s capacity at present. 

Overview of Nordic Voluntary Local, Subnational, and National Reviews:

 
Norway 
Sweden 
Finland 
Denmark 
Iceland
VLR 
 
VSR 
The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS)
VLRs in VSR reported include Trondheim,  
Oslo, Bergen, Møre and Romsdal Regional Authority
, 2021 
 
 
VNR 
Norway, 2016; 2021 
Finland, 2016; 2020 
Denmark, 2017; 2021