A global push to localise SDGs: Local leaders meet UN Secretary General

23 juillet 2019

PLATFORMA and CEMR’s joint delegation of  local and regional elected officials was everywhere in New York from 15 to 18 July. At the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), they called for accelerated action to localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also had the chance to exchange with various representatives of UN agencies, including  UN Secretary General, António Guterres. They also shared views with European Commission Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, Stefano Manservisi.

No Global Goals without towns and regions

At the Local and regional governments Day, organised by the Global Taskforce (GTF), the delegation exchanged with the President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa and the Executive Director of UN Habitat Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

At this event, the Global Task Force led by UCLG launched its 3rd report “Towards the localization of the SDGs”, while PLATFORMA presented its infographic on the role of associations of town and regions in localising the 2030 Agenda.

Mayors and presidents of regions showed how local acceleration is key to achieve the Global Goals. They insisted that local and regional governments share the sense of urgency expressed by the UN.

The key role of partnerships

Later on, the delegation attended the side event organised by FEMP and PLATFORMA where elected officials discussed how alliances are fundamental for the acceleration of the 2030 Agenda and for inclusive strategies for sustainable development.

Local Action for Global Commitments

The delegation then attended the UN Local2030 Event, jointly facilitated by Local2030, UNDESA and the GTF. Explicit attention was paid to the role and approach of local governments on development goals 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17.

Financing the Sustainable Development and Voluntary Local Reviews were also under discussion. Those were also the topic of the UNDESA Voluntary National Reviews Lab on the 17.

Financing the SDGs

Later on the 16th, the delegation was once again with Stefano Manservisi and Maimunah Mohd Sharif at a side event on Financing the SDGs at the local level, organised by AICCRE and the Italian government, and supported by PLATFORMA.

Two high level exclusive meetings

A key moment for our EU delegation was the exclusive breakfast meeting with DG DEVCO’s Director General, Stefano Manservi, where mayors and local elected representatives had the opportunity to showcase the work that they are doing to implement the SDGs in their territories and with partner countries.

This was followed by an exclusive meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, facilitated by the Global Taskforce and UCLG. The local officials underlined the need to continue featuring the local and regional perspective across UN events and meetings.

 Discover the HLPF as if you were there

  • Check out the pictures of the event here, here and here.
  • Browse through the conversation on Twitter with #HLPF2019.
  • Watch the video of the Local 2030 event on UN Web TV.


What’s next?

24 September: the launch of our PLATFORMA-CEMR publication on the localisation of SDGs across Europe and the role of associations. An infographic with the key findings and main messages of the study was released and shared throughout the HLPF.

24-25 September: the UN SDG Summit,  alongside the 2nd Local and Regional Governments Forum, which will aim to establish high-level dialogues between different spheres of government and accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

Local leaders speak out: what the HLPF participants had to say

« Involving citizens in local projects is crucial to advance the fight against the climate crisis, » said the Mayor of Seville, President of FEMP & CEMR spokesperson for climate Juan Espadas.

« This year, HPLF has shown once again the role cities and region are willing and expected to play in achieving the SDGs,” said Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR. “We will be vigilant that in the coming weeks and months, both the new European Commission and the European member states confirm this by developing a multiannual strategy and budget aligned with the 2030 Agenda.”

The Director of PLATFORMA Marlène Siméon made clear that “city-to-city and region-to-region development cooperation can foster capacity building to help local governments work better with the national level”.

Greg Munro, Secretary-General of CLGF said: “We need more than just technical leadership to align strategies. We need political hearts and minds.

The President of the Basque Country, Iñigo Urkullu, explained how the 2030 Agenda is at the heart of the policies conducted by his region.

Local authorities are best placed to coordinate stakeholders and translate needs into responses,” said Stefano Manservisi, the European Commission Director-General for International Cooperation and Development. “A multi-stakeholder and multi-level governance approach will produce public policies based on the SDGs and match resources with the needs.”

65% of SDG targets are the responsibility of local and regional governments. It’s time for different levels of government to work together to face the challenge of the 2030 Agenda”, said UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

Ullrich Sierau, Mayor of Dortmund (Germany, RGRE) said: « We have talked a lot about problems and challenges. Let us be more concrete and go to the implementation level. Cities need to be more involved at the negotiating tables because they are the « implementers », the practitioners, and translate the SDGs to the municipal level. Municipalities are key players and driving forces in the implementation of the Agenda 2030, which must be filled with life through bottom-up approaches. »

No country, no city, no region, can deliver the SDGs on its own. Partnerships are key. Public policies need to be the result of dialogues and participatory processes,” said Jan van Zanen, chairman of the VNG and mayor of Utrecht, reporting on SDG17.

« The exchanges highlighted the added value of international cooperation between and with local governments: it helps to set common challenges for territories and share pragmatic solutions of proximity. During the meeting with DG DEVCO, we explained to Stefano Manservisi the need to improve European financial instruments and to take into account the specificities of local and regional governments compared to NGOs. This was also reflected during the meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, » said Valérie Dumontet, Vice-President of the « Conseil départemental de l’Aude (France, Cités Unies France).

« Towns and regions are at the forefront to address challenges such as ecological emergencies, gender equality, poverty alleviation, development education as well as rebalancing public policies and global actions that make today people more vulnerable. It is strategic to move governance mechanisms forward by asking the states to consider the place of local authorities alongside them, within the global governance of the SDGs. The meeting with the UN Secretary-General is an important step in this direction », she added.

These were fascinating days here in New York at the UN,” stated Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk (Belgium) and President of VVSG. “It is good to see how local governments all over the world have a common goal, how can we make our cities and municipalities, together with all residents, even more sustainable and inclusive.

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