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Tracking SDG progress the Bhopal way

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    26th May, 2023


Bhopal has become the first city in India to join the growing global movement on localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following the release of its Voluntary Local Review (VLR).

India’s Progress

  • Centre Efforts: NITI Aayog presented India’s second VNR (Voluntary National Review) in 2020. Also, Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI) published a National Indicator Framework (NIF) for the review and monitoring of the SDGs.
  • State efforts: At least 23 States and Union Territories have prepared a vision document based on SDGs. Almost all of them have initiated steps to localise the SDGs. 
  • Cities efforts: Cities are the most important stakeholders in Agenda 2030 as at least 65% of the 169 targets could not possibly be achieved without their engagement. It is desirable to align a city’s VLR to the State-level action plan (where available) and the country’s VNR.

The Bhopal plan

  • Collaboration: Bhopal’s VLR (Voluntary Local review) is the result of a collaboration between the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, Un-Habitat and a collective of over 23 local stakeholders. It has mapped 56 developmental projects to the SDGs across the pillars, of people, planet and prosperity. 
  • Objective: The objectives of building basic infrastructure and resilience emerge as a priority for the city from the number of projects mapped to the SDGs.
  • Performance: The in-depth quantitative assessment of city-level indicators under SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) records Bhopal’s stellar performance in solid waste management practices, public transportation, and open spaces per capita. 

Other Examples

  • Improving Voluntary Local review: VLR is not necessarily have to prerogative of a local government. It represents people’s process, and any city-level stakeholder may take the initiative as long as the VLR is done within the overarching framework of Agenda 2030.
  • Canterbury case study: In city of Canterbury (United Kingdom) some residents and local groups came together to form a “spontaneous coalition” that did the VLR. This coalition petitioned the local governments to work with city-level groups to advance the SDGs, and the latter merely served as an interlocutor in the VLR process.
  • Global South: In the global South, we have the examples of local governments in Dhulikhel (Nepal), Singra (Bangladesh), and Amman (Jordan) that worked in a similar context as that of Indian cities to publish their VLRs in 2022.

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