VLR “Lab” – experiments for better policy integration, peer-learning, and accountability to citizens.
Voluntary Local Review (VLR) is a process in which local and regional governments (LRGs) initiate voluntarily an assessment of their progress of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. This makes it possible for LRGs to share experiences, challenges, and lessons learnt as well as to open their door for new partnerships, filling the gap of means of implementation for their local vision. It can also enable local governments to engage citizens in the review process, strengthening accountability and inclusive governance. This results in documentation called “VLR Reports” that detail the process and results of these reviews. This aims, in the long-term, to complement Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) by filling the gap between local reality and national policy environment and by informing policy makers at the national level.
Four cities, including three from Japan with IGES’ assistance, have published VLR reports. With wider recognition of this initiative, there is a growing interest in VLRs. However, there has been no information hub where all VLRs are accessible and cities with plans to do VLRs this year are listed. Hence, this VLR Lab aims to support municipalities by facilitating better access to information and lessons learnt. We call this platform a “lab” because it provides necessary materials and previous cases to pursue a new innovative and robust way of reporting. By collecting all lessons learnt, LRGs can effectively plan their own reporting and make the best use of other examples. Any cities conducted or going to conduct VLRs are frontrunners to discovering a new avenue for better policy coordination, city-to-city peer-learning, and accountability for citizens.
Developing “VLR Ecosystem” – online & offline VLR Lab, VLR Guideline, and VLR Workshops
IGES is in process of developing the “VLR Ecosystem.” This is expected to contain three components: 1. VLR Lab; 2. VLR Guideline; and 3. VLR Workshop. VLR Lab will be a platform where all experiences of VLRs are collected and shared digitally and physically. VLR Guideline is to set the VLR formats and standards for the purpose of comparison and monitoring. VLR Workshop is a capacity-development package for cities seeking to conduct the VLRs. In the coming months, we will further share more details.