From local action to global impact: How localizing SDG 11 empowers communities for sustainable transformation


The 7th report of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments to the HLPF 2023, Towards the Localization of the SDGs, has been released at the Local and Regional Governments’ Day!

The world stands at a turning point towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the United Nations’ Secretary General 2023 Progress Report on the SDGs, only 12% of the approximately 140 targets with available data are on track, while 30% have stagnated or are regressing below the baseline set in 2015. In the face of the current complex and interconnected crises and emergencies, local and regional governments (LRGs) remain at the forefront of public response. 

This year’s edition of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is a crucial milestone, marking a significant step towards the renewal of the multilateral system as well as the review of the progress achieved in the consecution of SDG 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” SDG 11 is a catalyst for achieving all other SDGs which also forefronts the crucial role that LRGs play in the achievement of the Global Goals.

The 7th report of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments to the HLPF 2023 offers an in-depth analysis of the SDG localization progress in the countries that are presenting their Voluntary National Reviews to the HLPF this year, including how LRGs participate in national coordination and reporting processes. The findings call for urgent reforms to mainstream a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to SDG implementation and reporting, given that LRGs have participated in national coordination mechanisms for SDG implementation in only 35% of VNR countries and in the preparation of only 39% of VNRs. It also provides an extensive overview of how LRGs are aligning their local policy making instruments with the 2030 Agenda and raising awareness of its critical importance. 

The report  provides a dedicated overview to the role of LRGs in localizing SDG 11, exploring how this is also key to achieving all other SDGs. It does so by exploring SDG 11 localization across the globe through five thematic papers, including experiences from 105 LRGs worldwide. 

Paper 1: “Housing and basic services from below” focuses on promoting adequate housing and basic services Paper 2: “Integrated and participatory urban planning”  highlights feminist approaches in urban planning policies for accessibility, proximity and civic participation.  Paper 3: “Forefronting transformative action” discusses LRGs’ pathways to environmental justice Paper 4: “A cultural boost in the achievement of the SDGs” proposes leveraging culture and heritage for fulfilling the SDGs.  Paper 5: “Multilevel governance and finance” underscores the need for balanced urban systems and multilevel governance.

Moreover, the report spotlights the 11 new Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) that have been developed this year by the local and regional government associations of Cambodia, Chile, Comoros, Ecuador, Flanders (Belgium), Iceland, Kenya, Romania, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. It also provides a snapshot of the current state of the Voluntary Local Reviews’ (VLRs) movement, as the total number of available VLRs exceeds 240. 

In addition, the second edition of the Country Profiles on SDG Localization has been published, featuring 44 new profiles and 181 in total. The Profiles provide a brief country-by-country analysis of coordination and reporting processes related to the 2030 Agenda, highlighting localization strategies and the modalities of involvement of LRGs.

The LRG Day has also marked the occasion of the official launch of the VLR-VSR Days, co-organized with UN-Habitat and UNDESA. Following this launch, four online thematic sessions will take place on Monday and Tuesday, July 17th and 18th, between 13:30h and 16:45h CEST and between 13:30h 17:15h CEST, respectively. You can find all information here.

We invite you to read through the 7th GTF Towards the Localization of the SDGs report, engage with its findings and share them. And we also invite you to join online for the VLR-VSR Days. Together, we can strengthen the global movement for SDG localization!