Local and Regional Governments Present SDG Initiatives at Second Forum
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The second Local and Regional Governments' Forum convened on the occasion of the SDG Summit.

Participants presented a variety of subnational initiatives to advance the SDGs, and called for having “a seat at the table” when discussing matters related to the 2030 Agenda, explaining that cities are at the forefront of sustainable development issues.

The event was hosted by Cameroon and Morocco, and organized by DESA, UN-Habitat, the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments, and Local 2030.

24 September 2019: During the second Local and Regional Governments’ Forum, officials from sub-national governments stressed the need to “have a seat at the table” when discussing matters related to the 2030 Agenda. They outlined several SDG-related initiatives undertaken in cities and regions, noting that these are often undertaken with limited capacities.

The second Local and Regional Governments’ Forum was hosted by Cameroon and Morocco, and organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments, and Local 2030. It followed a first edition of the event organized in July 2018, on the sidelines of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The second edition of the Forum convened on 24 September 2019, in New York, US, on the occasion of the SDG Summit. The Forum considered the theme, ‘Connecting global ambition and local action,’ and included sessions on triggering the transformation needed to address the climate challenge, good practices and experiences on implementing the 2030 Agenda at local level, and commitments for accelerated SDG implementation.

Each official should take personal responsibility, even if it costs their seat at the political level.

Participants noted insufficient progress on the 2030 Agenda, and called for stronger involvement of regional and local governments, explaining that cities are at the forefront of sustainable development issues, including natural disasters, hunger and poverty. They noted a misunderstanding of internationally agreed decisions at the local level, including the SDGs, and the need for more awareness raising, capacity building and “significant” public and private investment. Some remarked that politicians can cause a lot of harm when they don’t act with honesty and transparency, and that each official should take personal responsibility, even if it “costs our seat” at the political level.

Among the panelists speaking during the opening session, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN‐Habitat, noted the need to “think local, act global, learn global and apply local.” Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said local and regional governments have the potential to be the game changers in making the SDGs a reality for all in ensuring no one is left behind, and in creating opportunities for decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation. She explained that cities are expected to consume 90 billion tons per year of raw materials and to produce 85% of global economic output by 2050.

On climate change, Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City, noted his city’s commitment to promote energy efficiency in the transport sector, to make public transport accessible, and to use an e-transit network that would include 33 new electric buses deployed in the city. Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, US, remarked that more than 400 US cities have agreed to follow the Paris Agreement on climate change, regardless of the decision of the US government to withdraw from it. Mohamed Boudra, President of the Municipal Councils of Morocco (AMPCC), said his organization, in partnership with other stakeholders, launched an initiative aiming to increase climate finance expertise at the territorial level. Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, Germany, and President of Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), announced the UrbanEra4Life, a joint Bonn-ICLEI initiative that will drive local action over the next ten years on climate and sustainability. He also referred to the ICLEI Montreal Action Plan that lists 200 actions addressing all SDGs.

On experiences and initiatives related to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation at the local level, Cristina Gallach, Spain’s High Commissioner for the Agenda 2030, noted that the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, with the support of the Spanish government, declared that the 2030 Agenda will constitute the framework for action for every municipality in her country. Alejandro Murat, Governor of Oaxaca, Mexico, said Oaxaca State has passed a decree to support SDG implementation. Juan Espadas, Mayor of Seville, Spain, referred to the Seville Commitment on localizing the SDGs, and said his city has a strategic plan 2030 aligned with the 17 SDGs.

Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany, noted Mannheim’s commitment to implement the SDGs through ‘Mannheim 2030.’ Johnny Araya, Mayor of San Jose, Costa Rica, noted that Costa Rica has been declared a UN Champion of the Earth for 2019, and that his city created multistakeholder mechanisms to coordinate action related to sustainable development, including councils for social development and environmental sustainability. Anders Knape, President of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), Sweden, said SALAR developed and Open Comparison tool on the 2030 Agenda that allows comparison of data sets between municipalities, and encourages peer learning.

Several participants made reference to voluntary local reviews (VLRs). Parks Tau, President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), highlighted the importance of VLRs as a reporting and accountability mechanism, and as a way to connect local governments to citizens’ needs and to other levels of government. Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, Finland, mentioned that his city was the second city in the world to submit a VLR to the UN, and reported that Helsinki has launched a participatory budgeting initiative, allowing citizens to make suggestions regarding the specific allocation of city funds. He further noted that the city received 1,300 proposals regarding these allocations, and that the principle of equality was taken into consideration. Yasutomo Suzuki, Mayor of Hamamatsu, Japan, indicated his city’s work on a VLR to accelerate SDG implementation. Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Canada, announced that Kitchener’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan takes into account the SDGs, and should complete an initial VLR by end of 2020.

Gabriela Ramos, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said her organization has developed a territorial approach to the SDGs that is being piloted in regions and cities of Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Russia, Spain and other countries. She announced that an OECD localized indicator framework for the SDGs will be launched at the 10th World Urban Forum convening in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2020, and that the second OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for the SDGs will convene on 9 December 2019, in Bonn, Germany.

Thembi Nkadimeng, President of South African Local Government Association (SALGA), South Africa, reported that SALGA is supporting the development of a framework on SDG localization in South Africa, that will be outcome-measured and outcome-based. She said the sixth Congress of UCLG and the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders will take place from 11-15 November 2019, in Durban, South Africa.

Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan, Russian Federation, pointed to a partnership initiative between Eurasian national and sub-national organizations to provide training workshops for local and regional leaders on SDGs. He said the partnership’s intent is to host about ten workshops in 2020 and train about 300 hundred local leaders.

Closing the meeting, Lotta Tahtinen, DESA, invited participants to launch “game changing” acceleration actions, and register them on the UN’s SDG Acceleration Action platform, which aims to capture and monitor those actions. [Meeting Webpage] [Meeting Webcast] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]


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