Voluntary Local Review

NYC Leads Global Voluntary Local Review Movement

In April 2015, NYC committed to becoming the most resilient, sustainable, and equitable city in the world through its groundbreaking OneNYC strategy. OneNYC is a model for sustainable development at the local level. The plan includes commitments, milestones, and metrics. NYC publishes an annual progress report on Earth Day, which is April 22nd.

When global leaders committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, in September 2015, the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs recognized the overlap between our local strategy and the Global Goals. The Office established the Global Vision | Urban Action program to use the Global Goals as a common language to talk about shared challenges and solutions with partners in NYC and around the world.

Three years after OneNYC was launched, Mayor de Blasio announced record progress in creating the fairest big city in America. Jobs are at record highs across the five boroughs. Crime is lower than it’s been since the 1950s. The air and surrounding waterways are cleaner than they’ve been in decades. Our neighborhoods are safer, more affordable, and more environmentally just. And we have raised the bar on climate leadership by taking the fight straight to the fossil fuel companies that have created the climate crisis.

Since April 2015:

  • All OneNYC initiatives have launched and are already underway
  • Over 80% of OneNYC indicators are stable or improving
  • Of the 564 milestones set for the end of 2017, 86% were either completed or partially completed

NYC announced on May 1, 2018, that it would become the first city in the world to submit a review of its progress directly to the United Nations during the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Modeled after the Voluntary National Review (VNR) that countries are invited to submit to the HLPF every year, the Voluntary Local Review (VLR) highlights NYC’s sustainable development achievements since 2015. It uses the common language of the Global Goals to translate NYC’s local actions to a global audience, with a focus on the five priority Goals for the 2018 HLPF.

The review was developed by IA in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Offices of Operations, and Climate Policy and Programs, and in consultation with relevant NYC agencies.

It is a presentation of existing NYC information in a format that is accessible to the UN community as well as other stakeholders following the SDG process, in line with United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) documents recognizing the key role of local governments in the implementation of the SDGs.

To complement the written report, IA partnered with relevant city agencies to develop a series of site visits for the UN diplomatic community, focusing specifically on the Global Goals to be reviewed in July 2018. This included a trip to the country’s largest recycling facility to explore Global Goal 12, a ride on a sludge vessel to learn about Global Goal 6, and a tour of a community garden to delve into Global Goal 15. During the site visits, NYC agencies also highlighted how their work is integrated with additional Global Goals.

Through this process, NYC agencies have actively engaged in linking the City’s local sustainability work to the Global Goals, and we have identified additional opportunities for deeper engagement with UN agencies, member states, cities, and other stakeholders.

Following the 2018 HLPF, IA built on these connections and encouraged other local governments around the world to join us in submitting a VLR at the 2019 HLPF. The VLR gives local governments of all sizes a concrete tool to become directly involved with the work of the United Nations for the first time. New York City shares its pioneering VLR model with cities around the world, and provides guidance to local governments interested in tracking their progress using the framework of the SDGs. To date, Helsinki, Finland, and Bristol, United Kingdom have released VLRs while other cities are slated to release VLRs in 2019.

The de Blasio administration launched OneNYC 2050, the City’s comprehensive strategic plan, in April 2019. For the first time, NYC formally committed to producing and submitted a VLR to the UN every year, and incorporated the SDG indicators directly in OneNYC.

In 2019, the HLPF and NYC’s VLR are focused on the SDGs of quality education (Goal 4), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), reduced inequalities (Goal 10), climate action (Goal 13), peace, justice, and strong institutions (Goal 16), and promoting strategic partnerships for the SDGs (Goal 17). The 2019 VLR was developed by the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs in partnership with the Mayor’s Offices of Operations, based on OneNYC 2050 developed by the Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs. NYC agencies working on the SDGs reviewed in this year’s report were also consulted.

Download the 2019 Voluntary Local Review: New York City’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Download the 2018 Voluntary Local Review: New York City’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Download the accessible version of the 2018 Voluntary Local Review: New York City’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

During the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019, New York City launched the Voluntary Local Review (VLR) Declaration for local and regional governments worldwide to formally commit to report their local progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.  Learn more here.