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Effectiveness of SDG national reporting and coordination mechanisms

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As mentioned in Section 5, six CEMR associations will be reporting to the 2022 HLPF using Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). Four of the participating associations responded to our survey: Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, VNG presented its own report but was also active in the reporting unit appointed by the national government as well as in the drafting process. In 2019, AICCRE organised the Italian government’s principal HLPF event, which is telling of the importance they attribute to AICCRE’s work on the SDGs since the launch of Venice City Solutions in 2018. At the annual events organised by AICCRE presenting Venice City Solutions 2030’s work, representatives of the national government are always in attendance. Under its own methodology, the VNR in fact allows AICCRE, as a member of the “Strategic Alliance for Sustainable Development”, which brings together all the stakeholders (CSOs, academia, NGOs), to be an auditor of the process. It should be noted that regions in Italy are allocated their own specific space. The Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments contributed to the reporting process by responding to a survey for inclusion in their country’s VNR. SYVICOL responded that they were not at all involved in the reporting process in Luxembourg.

Compared to previous years, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands reported that their level of involvement contributing to the reporting process remained the same.

Challenges and opportunities associated with the implementation of the SDGs at local level
Changes in VNR involvement from 2017 to 2021

Belgium produced their first VNR in 2017. Back then, local governments were only minimally consulted or involved in the actual process and report. Belgium intends to produce a new VNR in 2023. In view of this, the Flemish Association of cities will be working on a VSR to be integrated into the VNR. Latvia: The local association received a letter from the governmental institution in charge of the SDGs informing them that they had started work on their VNR and requesting the LRGA’s input and contribution. The Netherlands (VNG International): Although there is an annual SDG progress report at the national level in the Netherlands, there is still no official national SDG strategy. Norway: Norway submitted its VNR this year. Summaries of local reviews from municipalities and regional authorities that produced VLRs were also incorporated into this VNR. Slovenia: a VNR was prepared in 2020. Contributions from the local association were partly taken into consideration and, overall, the participatory process proved to be more inclusive than in other areas or instances involving the preparation of strategies and reports. South-East Europe: For the first time, through national members in Kosovo and North Macedonia, NALAS took part in the process by supporting activities of national entities providing input. This was carried out jointly under the project "Regional Learning for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in South-East Europe”. Sweden: In 2021, Sweden submitted a VNR, a VSR and four VLRs. SALAR participated in a working group involving the national level and LRGs that was established to coordinate reporting and joint actions. The VNR included an entire chapter dedicated to the local and regional perspective that was based on the VSR and VLRs. UK: COSLA contributed to the UK’s 2019 VNR (the only UK association to do so, as indicated in the VNR itself).

Has your organisation or any LRG representative been involved in any way in the institutional mechanisms set up by the national government to coordinate SDG implementation? How?

Below are case examples indicating how the involvement of LRGAs/LRGs in the national SDG coordination mechanisms has evolved over time. In this regard, the case of Scotland in particular is worth highlighting: a draft law is being prepared that would make SDGs legally binding upon local authorities under the Well-being and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill (the wide-ranging impact of this law would set a unique global precedent).


AIMF: The participation of its member cities (French speakers mayors) has increased, owing in particular to the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency programmes put in place in response. Estonia: In recent years, LRGA staff have increasingly played a greater role in drawing up national strategies. Iceland: Involvement has taken place through the Platform on the SDGs established to coordinate actions between the national and regional levels. Italy: Since 2018, Venice City Solutions has been acknowledged to be the platform for exchange on SDGs. Luxembourg: An online tool developed by the national government has been made available that allows LRGs to track their efforts to implement the SDGs. The Netherlands: LBSNN focuses most of its support for LGs on the education sector, and primary education in particular, in line with the Local Education Agenda. This explains why LBSNN is more active in the national education networks. VNG however remains involved in the national annual SDG report, namely by drafting and submitting a dedicated chapter on decentralised government. Serbia: Its main coordinating mechanism for SDG implementation is the Inter-Ministerial Working Group for Implementation of 2030 Agenda. UK (COSLA): There are two mechanisms in the UK, both in Scotland: 1) the UK 2019 VNR and 2) the 2020 Scottish VSR and the National Performance Framework mainstreaming SDGs in Scotland, will now be made into all by way of the Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill. As previously mentioned, this proposed bill would make SDGs legally binding upon local authorities, a global first.