Bristol first UK city to publish Voluntary Local Review

Written by Jay Neuner

Bristol’s VLR report.    Source   : University of Bristol

Bristol’s VLR report. Source: University of Bristol

Bristol, England is the latest city to produce a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) – the subnational equivalent of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), which showcase progress in countries’ commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bristol joins New York City among the few cities publishing their own accounting of efforts towards the SDGs, and is the first UK city to do so. Their report will be presented in New York at the High-level Political Forum in July 2019.

As the Bristol team recounts, it is local action on global challenges that is showcased in the VLR. Stakeholders from business, civil society, and of course, policy joined efforts to rally action on the SDGs and detail what progress had been made. Bristol’s VLR process hinged upon overlaying the SDGs with its existing, sustainable development-oriented One City Plan. A similar task befell New York City in its VLR effort, of connecting progress on the SDGs in the region to its OneNYC strategy.

Key to making these global goals local were data. Specifically, to show progress on the SDGs, cities have to align their strategies with the SDGs via identical, similar, or comparable measures of progress ­– their own set of SDG-relevant indicators. The grantees (including Bristol) of SDSN’s Local Data Action Solutions Initiative were among the subnational entities that pioneered such work. You can read more about these evidence-driven, subnational SDG engagement efforts here.

For more on Bristol's SDG progress and what it means for progress in the UK and beyond, head over to the University of Bristol website to read the report.