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Leading Locally: The Origins and Impact of the Voluntary Local Review

Increasingly there is growing acknowledgement from the highest echelons of the United Nations to the most respected scholars and think tanks that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without the active engagement of local governments.

In 2018, through a process dubbed the Voluntary Local Review, New York City became the first in the world to report to the United Nations on its work in achieving the SDGs during the annual High-Level Political Forum. Highlighting continued commitment to the local implementation of Agenda 2030, the city launched the NYC Declaration on the Voluntary Local Review in September 2019 as a way for local and regional governments to formally commit to sharing their SDG progress on a global stage. Since then, over 333 subnational governments have signed onto the Declaration’s three commitments, representing nearly every region of the world.

Reflecting on the Voluntary Local Review movement, the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and UN-Habitat launched the report, “Leading Locally: The Origins and Impact of the Voluntary Local Review.” This report seeks to document the early days of the movement and ...


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