September 25, 2018 marks the third Anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The document named ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, containing 17 global goals and 169 related tasks, was signed three years ago. We invite you to take a glance at their origins and particularities.
Increased emphasis on equity and data disaggregation is a defining feature of the SDGs. The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty and inequalities, to protect the planet, and to ensure that all people can live in peace and prosperity by 2030. Whereas the Millennium Development Goals were largely focused on improving global and regional outcomes on average, the SDGs call for efforts to improve outcomes at the national and local levels with specific attention to vulnerable populations. The new Goals are unique and universal, they call for action by all countries worldwide.
New goals and objectives strive to ensure the balance of all three components of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. New objectives are comprehensive and indivisible, but what gives them potential to be transformed into effective results? For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, institutions, organisations, and civil society. The campaign ‘Global Day to #act4SDGs’ reminds us of the importance of joint effort and invites everyone to take action for a sustainable development. On 25 September 2018, we celebrate those who are making a real difference in their work, at home, and in public life by taking concrete actions, expanding ideas, and ensuring the SDGs deliver on their promise of a more just and sustainable world.
A question arises whether stakeholders are engaged and starting to deliver their commitments. Local2030 supports the on-the-ground delivery of the SDGs, with a focus on the furthest behind. It is a convergence point between local actors, national governments, and the United Nations system. Local2030 supports them in collaboratively seeking solutions and implementing strategies that advance the SDGs at the local level. The network of local and thematic hubs is a core feature of Local2030. These hubs are action and solution-oriented partnerships between the UN system and a wide range of relevant stakeholders: governments (national and subnational and their networks), banks and other financial bodies, businesses, civic institutions, and non-governmental organisations.
Another question to reflect on is whether it is possible to stay flexible in approaches yet target them effectively at local contexts. Localising the SDGs work to provide practical direction in assessing, planning, implementing and monitoring local policies, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals’ attainment strategies. The direction is given based on different political, institutional, economic and social characteristics.
It is imperative to sustain the flexibility concerning the SDGs, leaving enough space for adjustments shall these be required. In this regard, the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level. It ensures that the 2030 Agenda remains relevant and ambitious and focuses on the assessment of progress, achievements and challenges faced by developed and developing countries as well as new and emerging issues. A central feature of the HLPF are the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) that it receives from Member States on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The VNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilise multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs.
The Local and Regional Governments’ Forum at the HLPF 2018 recognised the importance of local and regional governments’ for establishing VNRs as well as for integrated territorial planning approaches for the accomplishment of the SDGs. Over 65% of the targets linked with the SDGs are directly related to local basic service provision. This is why local and regional governments are demanding a permanent seat at the global table and working towards a more collaborative model of governance. The Local and Regional Governments’ Forum was a key milestone towards this end. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) facilitated a report titled ‘Towards the Localization of the SDGs’ to the HLPF 2018. The report is compiled within the Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD) initiative, which gathers, analyses and shares information on decentralization and local governance across the world.
Over the next years, with the new Goals that universally apply to all, countries and its people will continue mobilising efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while conveying local perspectives and ensuring that no one is left behind.