19 December 2019
OECD Roundtable Shares SDG Localization Progress in 9 Cities and Regions
Photo Credit: Michael Parulava / Unsplash
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The meeting highlighted the key role of subnational governments in achieving the SDGs, and demonstrated the importance of SDGs for cities and regions.

Participants shared progress and lessons in localizing the SDGs in each of the nine pilots in the OECD Programme on a Territorial Approach to the SDGs.

Three pilots adapted existing strategies and plans to the SDGs and five developed new plans and strategies using the SDGs as a framework, while Moscow is using the SDGs as a "checklist" for ongoing efforts.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held a roundtable on the SDGs as an framework for cities and regions to improve their strategies, plans and implementation. The meeting convened as part of OECD’s Programme on a Territorial Approach to the SDGs, in which nine cities and regions in Latin America, Europe and Asia are participating as pilots.

Participants in the ‘Second OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for the SDGs’ considered a draft synthesis report on ‘A Territorial Approach to the SDGs,’ which highlights the key role of subnational governments in achieving the SDGs: 100 out of the 169 SDG targets require subnational governments to be achieved.

The report also demonstrates the importance of the SDGs for cities and regions, including to: re-orient existing strategies and plans to align with sustainable development; help cities and regions identify place-based priorities; promote synergies among policies; and contribute to improved vertical and horizontal coordination with other levels and sectors of government.

Participants recognized the SDGs as a tool for advancing and implementing a development paradigm that promotes sustainability in cities and regions. On measuring the SDGs, participants said the SDG indicator framework is an opportunity to strengthen national and sub-national statistical systems. They also supported “looking beyond national averages” to ensure no one is left behind.

Participants shared progress and lessons in localizing the SDGs in each of the nine pilots in the OECD programme. Of these cities and regions, three adapted existing strategies and plans to the SDGs: 

  • The state of Parana, Brazil, is mainstreaming the SDGs in budgeting, and strengthening financial support to municipalities in advancing SDG implementation. Private companies are aligning their plans and strategies with the SDGs to reduce environmental impacts and promote social justice.
  • In the region of Flanders, Belgium, municipalities are mainstreaming the SDGs into their policy planning processes, and working to localize the SDGs in a way that breaks down policy silos. One challenge has been coordination between regional and federal levels to harmonize indicators, because each government has its own strategies and sets of goals.
  • The province of Córdoba, Argentina is using the SDGs to improve the effectiveness of government actions and develop ‘Strategic Guidelines 2030’ through a participatory multi-stakeholder process. The province and local stakeholders have co-produced a matrix to identify drivers of social inclusion and measure links between the environmental and economic SDGs and the social SDGs.

Five of the pilots have developed new plans and strategies using the SDGs as a framework:

  • The city of Bonn, Germany has implemented a comprehensive process to localize the SDGs through its new Sustainability Strategy. It is using the SDGs to address concrete challenges facing the city, including energy, sustainability mobility and the tradeoffs between affordable housing and green space.
  • The region of Southern Denmark has aligned its regional development strategy with the SDGs, and plans to develop regional and municipal level indicators to support localization of the SDGs. The region will use an annual publication to monitor the status of its six strategy tracks: green transition, climate and resources; clean water and soil; skills for the future; healthy living conditions; an attractive region, rich in experiences; and mobility for all. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key feature of Southern Denmark’s SDG implementation, including initiatives to provide internship and employment opportunities for asylum seekers and long-term unemployed women within a framework for education and training, increased quality of life and enhanced inclusion.
  • The city of Kitakyushu, Japan has linked all major plans to the SDGs, including establishing relevant indicators. The city is using the 2030 Agenda as an opportunity to promote synergies between environmental issues and the social/economic areas of the SDGs.
  • The municipality of Kópavogur, Iceland formally adopted the SDGs in 2018 as part of the municipality’s comprehensive strategy. It has prioritized 15 SDGs and 36 targets. Kópavogur uses this strategy to promote synergies between interconnected goals and move away from sector-based planning. The city has also developed a child-friendly city index.
  • The county of Viken, Norway is using the SDGs to support a national territorial reform and address climate action, employment, social inclusion, mobility and transport.

Moscow, the Russian Federation, is using the SDGs as a checklist for ongoing programmes and activities, and using the Goals as an opportunity to promote an integrated approach to urban development and strengthen linkages across policy sectors at the local level.

The meeting also defined a path to support cities and regions in developing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) and be engaged in Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). Kitakyushu, Japan, and New York City, US were among the first local governments to present a VLR at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

OECD will launch the final version of the synthesis report and an online visualization tool at the 10th World Urban Forum, in February 2020. Reports of the nine pilots will be launched between March and July 2020.

Over 130 representatives from a wide range of cities, regions and national governments, networks of cities and regions, international organizations, the European Commission (EC), and other stakeholders participated in the Roundtable. The event convened in Bonn, Germany, on 9 December 2019. [Roundtable Webpage] [OECD Issue Notes] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on First OECD Roundtable] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VLR Presentations] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VLR Lab] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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