“In 2019 Helsinki became the second city in the world to commit to the Voluntary Local Review of the Sustainable Development Goals. We did it based on the model created by the City of New York and modified the approach to support our own strategical and practical needs. Our goal was to make visible our strategical alignment with the SDG’s, produce clear evidence of our success on delivering outcomes and find a common language with the international community – cities, subnational governments, NGO’s, national governments and the UN.
Helsinki did this for two main reasons. 1) We firmly believe, that national governments’ commitment are not enough to deliver Agenda 2030 success; and 2) Even though we delivered results on SDG action our alignments with other organizations and our own citizens on the importance of Agenda 2030 was not visible.
We have now started to work on our second report, which will be delivered next year. We have also worked with the City of New York and UN DESA, amongst others, to find a way to support those cities and subnational governments who are just beginning their VLR journey, especially in connection with their COVID-19 response.
Going forward and joining forces we must ensure that all cities have the chance and the possibility to join this movement. Even though we have found our work together with the Finnish national government fruitful we fully recognize that VLR work is even more important in cities who are not able to work with their respective national governments, or who might receive no national backing for their work. In these cases the work of subnational governments, NGOs and corporations is not by any means supplementary – but the only frontier for Agenda 2030 to move forward.
Encouraging practical, hands-on collaboration throughout the whole ecosystem should be a main priority. Year 2030 is drawing closer and our success is in delivering Agenda 2030 and success in COVID-19 response depends on our ability to engage everyone.”