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The EU confirms its support to partnerships between cities and regions

31 janvier 2019

The European Commission published yesterday its reflection paper “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030”, which outlines its strategy for delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is definitely good news for European towns and regions: since 2015, they have called for the SDGs to become the guiding principles that Europe needs to set up its future overarching strategy.

This reflection paper is crucial in the recognition of the partnerships between cities and regions from Europe and partner countries”, said Marlène Siméon, Director of PLATFORMA.

She applauded the inclusion of several points that PLATFORMA has already called for during the recent discussions on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the European Union development cooperation policies[1], notably:

  • EU’s support to the exchange of good practices between cities and regions

PLATFORMA reminds that decentralised cooperation is an effective tool to ensure a coherent approach to sustainable development

  • Involving local players in the political dialogue and decision-making process

PLATFORMA proposes to involve mayors in the EU delegation to the next UN High-Level Political Forum for the review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and to follow up the work of the EU multi-stakeholder platform on SDGs.

  • The interlinkages between SDGs

PLATFORMA proposes to set up new working methods by mainstreaming “SDGs ambassadors” in municipalities and an “SDGs envoy” in the European Commission making the link within the different Directorates-General

Marlène Siméon added: “This paper recalls the key role of local and regional governments by emphasising the importance of partnerships to address global issues and achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. Let’s work hand in hand now to achieve the SDGs!”

To walk our talk, PLATFORMA and its lead partner CEMR will integrate the SDGs as guiding principles for annual objectives, positions and working programmes in the years to come.

Several partners of PLATFORMA have also reacted to the EU executive paper:

  • Frédéric Vallier, CEMR Secretary General

With the adoption of its long-awaited reflection paper, the Commission makes a significant step forward towards a more sustainable future. […] Taking into account that 65% of the SDGs cannot be fully achieved without the involvement of cities and regions, the EU needs to team up with us.

The future strategy of the EU should lead to the transition of the European development model towards a sustainable, clean, sober, carbon free future to which towns and regions are ready to contribute. This is what we have called for as members of the Commission’s high-level multi-stakeholder platform on the SDGs.”

  • Wim Dries, VVSG president and mayor of the city of Genk

The SDGs will be local or they will not be at all! The SDGs need to be placed in the heart and centre of each of the municipal organisations. Flemish local governments are localising the SDGs by experimenting with the integration of the 2030 Agenda into their municipal strategic 6-year policy plans.

A lot of awareness raising is still needed to get the SDGs known to the citizens and to leave no local government behind. Yet, the local sphere cannot achieve the SDGs alone: multi-level governance is key to success!

  • The Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania (ALAL)

A prosperous and sustainable Europe is our future. Therefore, all of us need to take part in creating sustainability. Local and regional governments play a key role in localising the SDG’s: municipalities know how and show how practical implementation works. They are the place where national or European ideas are transformed into tangible results.

ALAL is seeking to promote and assist Lithuanian municipalities and colleagues from the Eastern Partnership countries to raise awareness on SDGs and strengthen the capacities in sustainable development and intermunicipal cooperation.

“The Sustainable Development Goals provide guidance and direction for the future. I am happy that the EU has now also formulated a clear ambition to achieve them. We as governments need to stand united on all levels.”

  • The Basque Government

“We remind that the success of the 2030 Agenda will greatly depend on its implementation in cities and territories. The regional governments are especially well-positioned to undertake this task and are closer to the level where actions are more likely to produce measurable results, in a more transparent, responsive and inclusive process and in line with the vertical and horizontal coordination and their competences.”

[1] These recommendations will feed the ‘Joint Synthesis Report’ to be published by the European Commission mid-April