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The Sustainability Lab

Voluntary Local Review as a catalyst for Sustainable Development


The Sustainability Lab

The deadline of the 2030 Agenda is approaching, and in this decade of action, the UN urges actors on global, local, and individual level to accelerate their work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR’s) have been identified as a valuable vehicle to advance local action. They assist local authorities in analysing the local priorities and help them identify the focus areas requiring the most effort in the transition towards sustainable societies. 


What are Voluntary Local Reviews?

The project is aimed at local and regional governments in the Baltic Sea region and in the Eastern Partnership countries. This project has grown out from two Swedish Institute-funded sustainability leadership programmes, implemented by Global Challenge (Baltic 2030 Leadership Programme and EaP Sustainability Leadership Programme) which identified the lack of knowledge and know-how about VLRs as well as tested and proved the potential of peer-to-peer capacity building.

A Voluntary Local Review is an analysis of the implementation of the SDGs in a specific local context, and a way for local and regional governments to monitor, track and report their progress in localizing SDG’s as well as other global agendas.

How is your city’s 2030 Agenda coming along? Do you have five minutes?

Tell us if/how you would consider VLR as a tool for localising the SDG’s.

(Learn more about this survey)

A growing interest

Despite the fact that targeted measures at the national level are increasing, cities and regions in the Baltic Sea region continue to face challenges when it comes to how they can contribute to the Global goals and how these can be measured and assessed. Only a few cities and regions in the area have implemented VLR processes. At the same time, there is a growing interest among cities and municipalities in the Baltic Sea region and within the Eastern Partnership to use VLR as a tool. That is why Global Challenge aims to investigate the interest of a “Sustainability Lab”, a shared platform for knowledge transfer between stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region and the Eastern Partnership. By promoting interregional learning, it will assist local and subnational actors – municipalities, regions and cities – in using VLR to improve their strategic planning as well as their sustainability and climate work.


What happens next?

During the spring of 2022, Global Challenge will, together with four project partners – The Union of the Baltic Cities Sustainable Cities Commission, the Association of Estonian Cities, Leontief Center and The State Fund for Support of Youth Housing Construction Ukraine – assess the interest and knowledge about VLR among local and regional actors in the Baltic Sea Region and the Eastern Partnership.

This project has received seed funding from the Swedish Institute with the purpose to conduct a project proposal for “The Sustainability Lab”. The results will be presented in a final event this summer. Keep an eye on our calendar for updates on dates!