24-26 September 2019 | KATHMANDU – UCLG ASPAC Secretary General Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, joined eighty representatives of various global and regional organisations in the discussion on SDGs localisation and other related issues, at the Policy Forum on Development (PFD) 3rd Asia Regional Meeting. The event was organised by the European Union (EU) in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 24 to 26 September 2019.

Attending in her capacity as PFD Task Team Member, Secretary General Bernadia I. Tjandradewi reiterated in her welcome remarks the needs to accelerate SDGs implementation. This is due to the fact that only 33% of SDGs Voluntary National Reports in Asia and the Pacific submitted in 2018 has involved local governments. She stated that SDGs can be considered as a way to renew the social contract. “Local government is using SDGs to build partnerships and work cross sectors in order to achieve sustainable development goals,” she said.

Mayor Nelson Legacion of Naga City (Philippines) further shared that, “Civic engagement has been institutionalised in his city through participatory budgeting and Naga City People’s Council (NCPC).” Gomer Padong, Director of the Philippine Social Enterprise Network, also highlighted social enterprises as an empowering tool for the localisation of SDGs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. According to him, “Including social enterprise in multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve SDGs ensures ethos redistribution in partnerships for development.”

Collaboration of local governments and civil society organisations is at heart of this discussion. Claire Frost, Programme Manager of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and PFD Task Team Member, acknowledged the existence of legal mechanisms to facilitate the collaboration in some countries. She strongly suggested for the mechanisms to go further and focus on most marginalised communities and specific role of associations.

Climate change was among the cross-cutting issues discussed. Participants stressed the need to protect the lives and the rights of climate activists as currently there is no real political commitment to address the situations of environmental defenders that are under attack. Meanwhile, Wardarina, Programme Officer of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, pointed out that major systemic barrier for SDGs includes patriarchy and the rise of patriarchal authoritarian governments, as it organises a set of rules that normalises fear. “Cheap women labour is still considered a competitive advantage. There is still rising inequality,” she said.

UCLG ASPAC is active member of PFD and has been working to develop local governments’ capacity to achieve SDGs through training activities and policy discussion platforms such as the recent 5th ASEAN Mayors Forum taking theme “Driving Local Actions for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.”