Regional and local governments hold key to achieve sustainable human development

1 June 2016

The vital role that Europe’s local and regional governments can play in tackling global issues of human development in the 21st century such as poverty and inequality, climate change and sustainable cities, in the framework of the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was addressed at a major seminar in Brussels, on the eve of the European Development Days.
Led by the Basque Government and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR), in partnership with PLATFORMA, and with the support of the ART Initiative-Hub for Territorial Partnerships of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the seminar gathered representatives of regional and local governments from across the globe and their associations, as well as high level officials from the European Commission, the UNDP and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The seminar “Integrated territorial partnerships and the SDGs: How to leave no one behind” examined how local and regional governments, through territorial partnerships and decentralised cooperation initiatives, contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and hence to the economic development, social cohesion and environmental protection of their communities.
“What is new with the SDGs? You need to get local or you go out of business,” said Rosario Bento Pais, Head of Civil Society, Local Authorities, DG International Cooperation and Development and (DEVCO), European Commission.
PLATFORMA representative, Flavia Donati, Director of Partnerships and International Cooperation in Tuscany Region, said: “Multi level dialogue can be a concrete way to show that when local authorities have a dialogue at national and international level, they become more aware of the problems and of the role they can play in solving them.”
The governments of Emilia Romagna (Silvia Grandi, Head of Department of Coordination of European Policies, Agreements and Special Area Programs) and the Basque country (Paul Ortega, Director of the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation) specifically focused on how the SDG framework and a tradition in territorial partnerships between Europe and partner countries can be made central to increase policy coherence for development.
Aziza Akhmouch, Head of Water and Governance Programme, Regional Development Policy Division, OECD, shared its efforts to better define what “local” means in the 2030 Agenda because there is a dire need for desegregated data to monitor progress. The measurement will be focusing on functional areas, not administrative boundaries.
The debate made clear that localization of the 2030 Agenda is not so much about “where change happens?”. It is about “how it happens?” and “who is driving change?”. A proposal to form a European Alliance for SDG local action was made.

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