SDG Localisation and Multi-Level Governance: Lessons from the Basque Country

Thursday, 20 May, 2021

SDG localisation and multi-level governance: lessons from the Basque Country


  • Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) have been blossoming in the last years as a useful tool for sub-national entities (mainly cities, but not only) for implementing the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These actions are the manifestation of the very dynamic global movement promoting SDG localisation, departing from the acknowledgment that local administrations play a vital role in the implementation of the Global Agenda. Despite the fact that the 2030 Agenda has been designed by the United Nations and managed principally at the country level, it will only deploy fully its potential if implemented also bottom-up, involving a wide range of stakeholders and levels of administration, and engaging with grassroots actions.VLRs are not only a tool for better policymaking, but also a great opportunity to foster city-regional diplomacy and cooperation. The enthusiasm with which VLRs have been embraced by several platforms involving sub-national entities reflects the fact that SDG localisation and VLRs are seen as a way to fulfill the traditional aspiration for sub-national entities to have a seat at the global table. The case of the Basque Region, which was among the first sub-national organisations in the world to adopt a consistent SDG localisation strategy, reflects well this dual use of VLR (tool for better policymaking and instrument for external action). It is a very clear example of multi-level, multi-stakeholder effort to use SDGs and their architecture to enhance cross-sector alliances within the administration and among multiple stakeholders in the quadruple helix and use the Global Agenda to re-position the Region in the international sphere. This report describes the various actions and initiatives developed in the Basque Region for the local implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which constitutes a pioneering exercise on the establishment of what this report defines as an ‘SDG ecosystem’. From this experience, the report draws recommendations useful for other regional authorities.




  • Hidalgo Simón, A., SDG localisation and multi-level governance: lessons from the Basque Country, Siragusa, A. and Proietti, P. editor(s), Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021, ISBN 978-92-76-37769-6, doi:10.2760/20519, JRC124586.


  • Publications Office of the European Union


  • JRC124586


  • 978-92-76-37769-6


  • OP KJ-03-21-214-EN-N


Access the full report here