At the 2015 United Nations General Assembly, 193 UN member states unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global development agenda that lays out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs, which came into effect in January 2016, are a universal set of goals, targets, and indicators that set out quantitative objectives across the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development by addressing critical sustainability issues such as poverty, climate change, inequality, economic development, and ecosystem protection. SDG 11 calls for ‘making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ one of the 17 SDGs.
When the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) was introduced in 2000, the development agenda relied heavily on national government involvement. The implementation modalities were primarily top-down and little role was left for local government. From implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we gained insights into evidence-based solutions for SDG localisation. Five drivers of transformational change stand out: (i) sensitisation and engagement of local actors, (ii) accountability mechanisms, (iii) participatory planning and service delivery, (iv) local economic development, and last but not least, (v) partnerships. (Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP, 2017). Local governments are critical in turning Agenda 2030 from a global vision into a local reality and local communities and stakeholders, who know individual and collective needs and capacities best, are critical partners in implementing and realising our global accord.
According to the UN, Localisation denotes the “process of defining; implementing; and monitoring strategies at the local level for achievable global, national and subnational sustainable goals and targets.” Meanwhile, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in its 2016-2022 Strategic Priorities states that “Localisation” is not parachuting the global goals into local contexts, but it is implementing local agendas in cities and territories to reach local and global goals. Localization is a political process based on harnessing local opportunities, priorities, and ideas.
There is a firm belief that the issue of localisation has to be extended beyond national, provincial/state/regional implementation and there is need for more focus on how the 2030 agenda will be implemented locally and the implications for the local level governments in this regard.
Localisation refers to the process of adapting, implementing, and monitoring the SDGs at the local level while ensuring we leave no one and no place behind. When we talk about localising the SDGs, it seems to be a simple task: translating the goals for the local level to implement them in the local system. However, in practice, it is not that easy. Local governments sometimes face several major challenges that are likely to have an impact in formulating the intervention plans on the Localisation of the SDGs globally, more so in developing countries.
To highlight and discuss challenges that local government face for Localisation of SDGs, an international conference on “Think Globally, Act Locally – SDGs Implementation through Local Governments” will be taking place within the framework of 2018 UCLG ASPAC Executive Bureau from 10-12 April 2018 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Essentially, the conference, that will gather local government leaders, representatives and other stakeholders, aims to highlight and discuss the challenges faced by the local governments for localisation of SDGs and also to share exemplary practices, experiences in addressing such challenges regionally and worldwide. The identified prominent experts will provide advice and guidance that will focus on policy, technical approaches and measures to address the challenges for implementation of SDGs at local level for a sustainable development.
- To inculcate relevant goals and targets of SDGs to the role of local government in localisation of SDGs.
- To highlight issues for localisation and implementation of SDGs and the improvement of mechanisms through exemplary practices of the local governments.
- To provide opportunities to the local governments representatives to develop partnerships on shared problems and create networks to exchange expertise to achieve the global goals through sustainable actions.
- The conference will provide a constructive environment to link the global goals to the local level of implementation. Best practices and the facilitation of cooperation linked to real examples on the ground will provide an inspiration for all participants to replicate success models, avoid mistakes and foster a common understanding within the community of local representatives.