Voluntary Local Review Handbook for Pacific Cities and Towns

Voluntary Local Review Handbook for Pacific Cities and Towns

The Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) is working with partners and stakeholders across the region to develop a resource to support Pacific cities and towns to undertake a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Voluntary Local Review.


Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development

MSDI will be attending the Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development in Bangkok, 27-30 March 2023.

We are seeking input and experiences around the barriers and opportunities associated with initiating VLR processes, or local SDG engagement and implementation.

Please visit our booth at the SDG Pavilion, and join us for side events on SDG localisation in the Pacific.

About this project

Building on MSDI’s Pacific region SDG engagement

As part of MSDI’s project to engage with Pacific stakeholders on the opportunities and challenges of implementing the 2030 Agenda, we identified that localising the SDGs is a critical component for driving sustainable development progress. The Voluntary Local Review – or VLR – is a key tool in the localisation process.

The VLR opportunity

The VLR process guides subnational urban communities in assessing, reporting and monitoring the ways in which sustainable development – and the 2030 Agenda – is being fulfilled within their local context. The VLR is an excellent opportunity for civil engagement, for identifying critical issues of high importance for the community, and for designing and implementing locally-driven solutions for both short and long-term sustainability, using the SDGs as the guiding framework.

The challenge

Twelve Pacific Island nations have conducted a Voluntary National Review (VNR) to assess their national progress on the SDGs, with a 13th underway. However, at the time of writing, only one Pacific Island country or territory has embarked upon a subnational level VLR process. There is no shortage of enthusiasm or commitment by Pacific Island urban communities to undertake the VLR process, however there has been a lack of traction in moving from enthusiasm to action.

The vision

To support a greater participation in the VLR process at the subnational level in Pacific Island countries and territories, MSDI is developing a context-specific VLR Handbook, with specific relevance at the local level. The Handbook aims to:

  • Provide a high-level overview of the VLR process. This includes:
    • Outlining what is involved in conducting a VLR, and the different approaches that can be employed.
    • Outlining what capabilities and resources are needed for conducting a VLR.
  • Highlight the community benefits of undertaking a VLR. For example, facilitating civic engagement, and providing an opportunity to streamline local-national policy action.
  • Provide practical examples and resources. For example, how to scope targets, and where and how to locate region-specific data.
  • Outline the next steps for undertaking a VLR.
  • Act as an advocacy and engagement tool to garner broader political and non-political actor support for undertaking a VLR.

Project plan

Phase 1 (current stage)

  • Develop a consultation draft Handbook, which is evidence-informed by VLR and Pacific expertise.
  • Invite input from actors with experiences to share around the barriers, challenges, opportunities and solutions associated with initiating VLR processes, or local SDG engagement and implementation. Please reach out to share your experiences via email.

Phase 2

  • Test the Handbook with a Pacific Island community to ensure the Handbook is fit for purpose, culturally appropriate, and context-relevant.

Phase 3

  • Incorporate feedback received through expert and community consultation to produce a collaborative, informative tool, for use by Pacific Island cities and towns seeking to engage in the Voluntary Local Review process.

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