Accelerating progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) necessarily requires that local and regional voices are fully made a part of national reporting efforts. Moreover, subnational reporting has proven to be a tool with huge potential not only to ground monitoring in local realities, but also to increase local ownership and reinforce multilevel dialogue.
In such light, UCLG has kickstarted a pilot project to support monitoring and reporting from the bottom-up in six of the countries that had committed to presenting their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in 2020. It has established partnerships with the national associations of Benin, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Mozambique and Nepal to develop country-wide reports on the progress of subnational localization efforts. As a result, national associations have engaged with their local and regional governments to produce six Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs), which provide a uniquely insightful outlook of progress and challenges to the fulfilment of the SDGs in each territory.
In spite of the newness of these subnational reporting processes, their transformational potential has already been proven. An analysis of the VNRs presented by the six countries where VSRs have been promoted shows how in Costa Rica and Ecuador, these processes are explicitly mentioned, and their text incorporated in VNRs. In Benin and Mozambique, VSRs are referenced. In Kenya, the VSR is even included as an annex.
Beyond their impact on national reporting processes themselves, VSRs have also proven to be a lever towards more inclusive national coordination mechanisms. This was for instance the case of Nepal, where the elaboration of the VSR gave rise to a multilevel dialogue that culminated with a formal invitation to the national associations to become part of the country’s SDG Steering Committee. Further details of the analysis and scope of impact of the first six VSRs can be found in the recently launched 4th edition of the Towards the Localization of the SDGs report. All in all, these pilot experiences show that VSRs have the potential to become an important tool to support in coming years, so as to accelerate the way towards the localization of the SDGs.