Voluntary Local Review – City of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This report looks into the localisation of SDGs in the City of Bijeljina, which is an SDG pioneer in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It reviews three SDGs – SDG5 (gender equality), SDG10 (inclusion), and SDG17 (partnerships towards goals) – through the lens of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) which is based on an immersion of researchers into the communities to seek active involvement of participants. The City of Bijeljina being a very heterogeneous community, this research has sought to address asymmetries in each of the three prioritised SDGs by looking into the institutional mechanisms for localisation of SDGs, specifically mechanisms and approaches for engagement of civil society, citizens and local communities in that process. It identifies some level of citizen engagement in setting priorities, marking the planning stage of the localization of SDG as participatory. However, the implementation and monitoring of results still lacks strong community ownership, as integration of SDGs into local processes still rests with the formal structures of the City administration. As such, the report concludes that the City of Bijeljina has been very successful in the initial stages of localisation of SDGs through systematic engagement of civil society in different aspects of designing and implementing the local Development Strategy, but recommends the City to enable and promote participatory monitoring that would more closely reflect citizens’ views on the process of localising SDGs.

Note: This is one of three Voluntary Local Reviews, developed using participatory methods, supported by ICLD in 2023. Lessons learned from this experimental approach to VLRs – how it builds democratic capacity and how it can get even better – are gathered in a forthcoming research report. Stay tuned!