The report, titled 'National and Sub-National Governments on the way towards the Localization of the SDGs,' complements the Voluntary National Reports (VNRs) provided by national governments.
The study includes case studies, local experiences, and knowledge on the ‘localization’ of the SDGs from local and regional governments and their national associations from 32 countries.
This year, national governments are reporting to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York from 10-19 July, to assess progress on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. United Cities and Local Government – the global network of local and regional governments (LRGs), which represents over 240,000 sub-national authorities in more than 175 countries– and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments are contributing to the global conversation with a report on the process of “localization” of the SDGs.
The report, titled ‘National and Sub-National Governments on the way towards the Localization of the SDGs,’ complements the Voluntary National Reports (VNRs) provided by national governments (22 countries in 2016 and 44 in 2017). Alongside an analysis of the 63 VNRs and Main Messages sent to the HLPF before 6 July 2017, the study includes input – case studies, local experiences, and knowledge on the ‘localization’ of the SDGs – from local and regional governments and their national associations from 32 countries.
The report highlights the degree to which local and regional governments around the world have been involved in the implementation of the SDGs and the greatest challenges to the ‘localization’ of the 2030 Agenda. These challenges include enabling LRGs to play their full role, empowering them through effective multi-level mechanisms, and increasing their awareness and ownership of the SDGs.
Out of the 63 VNRs analysed by UCLG, only 38 central governments (58%) acknowledge the participation and inclusion of local and regional governments in their national review processes. In 23 countries, LRGs were fully involved and engaged at all stages of the review. In over 25 countries, local and regional governments have reported proactive initiatives to integrate the SDGs into their strategies and to align their multi-annual plans and policy initiatives with the requirements and ambitions of the SDGs.
In terms of vertical cooperation, the VNRs and the reports by local and regional governments and their associations confirm a structural weakness: only 27 countries (44% of the reporting sample) have engaged local and regional governments in new or existing coordination mechanisms for the implementation of the SDGs. Countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Colombia, Brazil and Kenya show that many local and regional governments have made huge strides to raise awareness of the local dimension of implementation and taken full advantage of their role as the level of government closest to the people to finally have a voice in national processes. In many other countries, however, LRGs have denounced the lack of an enabling environment to let all local stakeholders take part actively in the localization process.
In line with the cyclical assessment performed by the HLPF, the report reviews the performance of national and sub-national governments on a number of the SDGs that are being assessed this year in New York. In terms of SDG 1 on poverty reduction, progress on territorialized, multidimensional pro-poor policies at the local level in the past few years will have to be twice as fast if its targets are to be met on time. The potential contribution of local and regional governments in this regard can be decisive. On SDG 2, UCLG’s report shows that territorial alimentary systems, enhanced peri-urban agriculture and the conservation of the local food chain have been the pillars of many local policy initiatives to stop hunger and fight malnutrition. Finally, local and regional government associations are continuing their longstanding advocacy for equal representation of women in local politics and government with the launch of the #BeCounted campaign, calling for better data to support indicator 5.5.1 on the proportion of women in locally elected office. In this regard, only 12 countries out of 63 have reported data on women’s representation at subnational level.
The report concludes with a few key recommendations for the future of the localization process. Stronger efforts are needed to involve local and regional governments in national alignment and consultation processes. While national governments should play a guiding role and promote the co-ownership of the implementation process, associations and networks of LRGs can also do a lot to empower their members. Over 30 VNRs have emphasized the importance of decentralization in the achievement of the SDGs. Whenever these systems are inadequate or lacking, localization has been hindered.
In terms of financing, territorial approaches to public investment can strengthen local and regional governments and their capacity to localize the SDGs: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing for development calls on national governments to provide adequate resources for effective, necessary investments in infrastructure and access to basic services.
As the level of government closest to communities and citizens, local governments also have a huge potential for the production and collection of disaggregated data on localization. Their ability to improve the available indicators should be strengthened through support for local monitoring initiatives.
Finally, local and regional governments can only fulfil their potential if they are able to learn from each other and design common solutions to common problems. More resources and capabilities should be dedicated to peer-to-peer learning and training.
Localization remains an untapped resource in the HLPF agenda. The report by UCLG for the Global Taskforce is the first of a series of efforts that aim to improve the visibility and appreciation of local and regional government initiatives, mobilization and capacities. Going forward, local and regional governments’ contribution to the global conversation must be acknowledged, and they must be given their rightful place at the global reporting table. [UCLG website] [Global Taskforce website] [National and Sub-National Governments on the way towards the Localization of the SDGs]