Call for proposal: Comparative research on the use of participatory methods in Voluntary Local Reviews


Voluntary Local Reviews aim to track local governments’ progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, while providing them with data to improve the efforts. However, VLRs may focus only on desk reviews of policy documents and local government sources, missing important data on community perceptions and assets. ICLD is financing 3 research projects with the aim of producing Voluntary Local Reviews using Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methods in Tanzania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to capture community data, deepen the “SDG localisation” segment of subnational- and national reviews, and increase community empowerment from the VLRs. Tanzania and Herzegovina will submit a Voluntary National Review in 2023. In Tanzania, ICLD is coordinating the process with UN Habitat and UCLG to align the process with the subnational- and national level reporting. These VLRs can be seen as cases that illustrate the process of citizen participation in the reporting on the SDGs. A comparative study thereof can provide useful insight for both the scientific community and practitioners.


The comparative study shall consolidate lessons learned from using participatory methods to conduct VLRs, to contribute the academic literature on participation in development and to inform future SDG reporting initiatives.

It shall compare the participatory VLR processes on two levels: between the ICLD-funded projects and between those and other VLRs using desk-based or less community-oriented research. It shall illuminate the implications for local communities as well as for different levels of government and the international community of conducting SDG reporting in a participatory manner. By doing so, it provides insight into the value and potential of participatory methods in VLR, with the objective to inform future VLR undertakings and contribute to scientific literature on participation in SDG reporting.

Guiding questions could include:

  • What are the differences between CBPR-based and other VLRs?
  • How does the undertaking of a VLR using CBPR impact the target communities?
  • What new knowledge can be added to the scientific literature on the use of citizen participation in the implementation, prioritisation and reporting on the SDGs?
  • In what way does these VLRs contribute to national and subnational reporting?
  • What can local governments and organizations learn for future endeavors?

In addition, the comparative research will hold consultations in an advisory capacity with the local researchers undertaking the VLRs during the course of their projects to elevate the quality.


The study should contain an in-depth comparative analysis of the X number of VLRs undertaken with ICLD funding, along with the number of non-ICLD VLRs the researcher deems appropriate. It should also analyse the VLR contribution to subnational- and national level reporting.   

The ICLD VLRs will be completed May 1st. During February to May, the research consultant commits to provide advice to the local researchers undertaking the VLRs and organise at least two online sessions in the process to provide feedback.

These are the terms of reference to which the VLR consultants responded. The comparative researcher should take this into account.

  1. VLR Concept note/ToR
  2. Overview of the three initiated VLRs within this project

Time Frame

The study shall be completed between March and October 2023.


This is a commission research project for 150.000 SEK.


  • A written report (15 pages) analyzing the data collected outlining the implications for SDG progress of using participatory methods for VLRs, and what the scientific community can learn about citizen consultations in SDG reporting, and how actors such as international donors and local governments can utilize these tools for SDG localization.
  • A tool box with simple steps local goverments can use to create a VLR using community and participatory methods.
  • One page with most relevant findings and recommendations for ICLD on how to support local governments in conducting VLRs/CBPR. 


Interested consultants and scholars can submit a short proposal describing a methodology to collect and analyze the data, providing what sources will be used, timeline and budget. The application should be accompanied by a CV of the research team no later than 5 March and sent to

Note: The deadline is extended to March 31st.

Research, SDGs, VLR, Voluntary Local Reviews,