As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, the 2030 Agenda encourages member States to "conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and subnational levels, which are country-led and country-driven". As part of this review, starting in 2016, countries have presented their Voluntary National Reviews to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Inspired by the VNRs, local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in their own subnational reviews – the Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), which have proven useful for cities and regions to foster SDG localization and demonstrate local governments’ capacity and commitments.
Although gaining in momentum, the VLR process does not have any official status as part of the formal follow-up and review processes hosted by the UN. There exists no specific template or official format that cities can follow if they choose to undertake a VLR. Developed in partnership with the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization, the Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines on Voluntary Local Reviews builds on existing resources and provides practical tools, checklists, and templates that local governments and other stakeholders can use when reviewing local progress against the SDGs. The content is designed to provide cities with context regarding the 2030 Agenda as well as guidance specific to the region to help them decide where to start, how to start and what to keep in mind when conducting a VLR.