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Bhopal becomes first Indian city to review progress in SDGs

The city initiated Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) to track the local government’s capacity and commitments towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the UN.

Statesman News Service | Bhopal |


Bhopal has become the first city in India to initiate city-level Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) to track the local government’s capacity and commitments towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the United Nations.

At the local level, the step would prove pivotal towards the city’s commitment to environmental conservation through sustainable development by adopting the localisation of SDGs. Globally,  it would ensure Bhopal’s contribution towards a cleaner, greener and healthier planet.

Bhopal’s VLR is the result of collaboration between the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), UN-Habitat and a collective of over 23 local stakeholders to measurably demonstrate the city’s aspirations for a sustainable and inclusive urban transformation. It incorporated a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to the review of SDGs, with qualitative mapping of 56 developmental projects in the city.

The localisation of the SDGs is a method through which the UN agenda, ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (Agenda 2030) is adopted to plan and implement strategies and actions customised to meet the unique challenges and requirements of each locality. SDGs localization would translate ‘Agenda 2030’ into local actions and impacts, which contribute to the global achievement of the SDGs.

According to BMC officials, Bhopal’s VLR would serve as an important means for decision makers to not only plan and monitor the progress of the city towards achieving the SDGs but also to identify and rectify gaps in the process.

“Bhopal’s VLR will enable us to understand where we stand and what we need to do further to meet the SDGs target,” BMC Commissioner K V S Choudhary told The Statesman today.

He said that a report, ‘An Agenda for Action: Sustainable Urban Transformation in Bhopal’ was recently launched by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Choudhary pointed out that the VLR would also provide an opportunity for local stakeholders’ contribution in achieving SDGs and knowledge-sharing opportunities with other cities and regions.

In 2015, all the 193 member states of the UN adopted Agenda 2030, comprising 17 SDGs and 169 targets as a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity. The member states report their progress towards achieving the goals through a voluntary national review (VNR) to the UN’s high-level political forum (HLPF). However, local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in their own subnational reviews, VLRs, which have proven useful for cities and regions.

According to the UN, the adoption of localization of SDGs is a significant step towards achieving Agenda 2030. Local and regional governments have a pivotal role in the implementation of the SDGs. Being the closest level of government to the people, local and regional governments are best placed to understand the local context, and design solutions that are tailored to the local needs and priorities.

In 2018, New York City in the US became the first city to present its VLR to the HLPF, followed by Bristol city in the United Kingdom later the same year while Los Angeles in the US did so in 2019.