Nordic cooperation for Agenda 2030 implementation at the local level

In 2024 – the final year of this project – our focus will be on producing a Nordic Voluntary Sub-National Review (VSR). This joint Nordic VSR is the first of its kind, developed by Nordregio together with the Nordic Associations of Local Governments. It will be presented to a global audience during the UN High-Level Political Forum in July 2024.

The Nordic VSR builds on a fresh survey sent to all Nordic municipalities about their work to localise Agenda 2030 and integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their operations and steering documents. We asked about their priorities and progress, obstacles, and resources. By sharing results and experiences of how to develop inclusive and sustainable communities, we want to inspire locally on a global scale and facilitate peer-learning between Nordic and global actors. Transferable methods and strategies will be made available online in a Nordic Toolbox. 

Usually, a VSR is the result of a country-wide, bottom-up reporting process on the implementation of the global goals at local and regional levels. What’s unique about this Nordic VSR is that it combines the five Nordic countries in one joint review of progress and remaining challenges.

The Nordic countries have a long tradition of strong local governance. With the Nordic VSR, we want to showcase the vital role of local governments to make progress towards a more sustainable world. As emphasized by the UN and OECD, at least 105 of the 169 SDG targets cannot be reached without proper engagement and collaboration at the local level. The Nordic VSR will also have a specific focus on youth inclusion.

The Nordic VSR report is a bottom-up initiative by the five Nordic Local (and regional) Government Associations (KL, KS, Kuntaliitto, Samband and SKR). Several of them already submitted national VSRs. The editorial process is managed by Nordregio. Besides showing the survey results, the report will also describe strengths and weaknesses in the national support to the local level. An important annex is the online map with a selection of local practices: The Nordic Toolbox

Since 2018, Nordregio has been analysing and supporting the implementation of the SDGs at local and regional levels in the Nordic countries. We have facilitated knowledge-exchange between national actors and peer-learning for municipalities, through conferences and two webinar series. Recurring topics have been steering and leadership, indicator development, and the shift towards sustainable public procurement. Some webinars targeted specific SDGs while others focused on stakeholder engagement, youth inclusion and the challenges of rural municipalities. All webinars featured speakers from Nordic municipalities who shared insights and methods and answered questions from the audience. Watch recordings of the webinars through the links below, under Related events.