Vienna, August 28, 2018 - The Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was decided by governments and state actors – however, its ambitious goals and benchmarks will eventually have to be implemented by and in regional and local entities. This means bringing them down from a purely abstract down to a very basic level, where lofty words will have to be translated into concrete actions on a regional and local level.
In acknowledgement of this fact, the agenda of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development, which was held from 9-18 July 2018, included the first Local and Regional Governments’ Forum. It took place on July 16, and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments seized this opportunity to present and put up for discussion its second annual report under the title: “Towards the Localization of the SDGs”. This report is designed to add to the information the Member States submitted to the HLPF in their individual Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). It takes a closer look at the VNRs and other information provided by the different local and regional governments of more than 61 countries and analyzes them with regard to how much progress was made in achieving implementation of the SDGs on the local and regional level.
The overall theme of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development was: "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies". The report also focused on this theme and consequently dealt with SDG 11 in particular, providing an in-depth assessment of the various regional and local initiatives that are working towards ‘sustainable cities and communities’. The development of urban planning and local policies are instrumental to delivering on the core promise to ‘leave no one behind’.
Increasing Trend towards SDG Localization, but More Progress Needed
The report demonstrates an increasing involvement of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) in SDG implementation – since 2016, local and regional participation in the preparation of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the 99 reporting countries increased from 43 to 43 percent. Despite this progress, however, there is still room for improvement. Local and regional SDG-related awareness is still limited. It is important to recognize that the vast majority of LRGs are either not acquainted with the SDGs or perceive the 2030 Agenda as superimposed by an international forum and burdensome.
In order to overcome these reservations, better policy coordination is needed. Also, effective measures to implement the SDGs on a regional and local level require an upgrading of personnel and financial resources. The role of LRGs needs to be strengthened. At present, countries generally acknowledge the importance of LRGs, however, their VNRs or national strategies do not always demonstrate a clear strategy for the ‘localization’ of the SDGs. Localization of the SDGs can only be scaled up as an integral part of national strategies.
A Local Example for Urban Improvement: Making Viennese Parks Safer for Women and Girls
A crucial dimension of SDG 11 is ‘safe and inclusive public spaces’. Part of this goal is promoting the reduction of gender inequalities in using public spaces. This entails in particular policy measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence directed towards women and girls in public spaces and to encourage them to use these spaces for their enjoyment and recreation. Here, Vienna (Austria) and Delhi (India) were singled out as examples of how gender-sensitive public policies can shape urban environments in such a way as to allow women and girls to move about freely and without inhibitions in public spaces, enabling them to make full use of the available sports and leisure opportunities.
In Vienna, two parks - Einsiedlerpark and Bruno-Kreisky-Park - in the fifth district were rearranged and redesigned to incorporate the special needs and interests of girls and women. The remarkable thing is that this pilot project was begun a long way ahead of the SDGs. As early as 1996/7, the Vienna city government commissioned a study titled “Lost Opportunities? – Bringing Girls into the Public Space”. In 2001, the process of redesigning the Einsiedlerpark to include the findings of the study regarding gender-specific landscape planning with its special emphasis on providing proper lighting and clear and open common areas was completed. The city government is planning to improve parks in all 23 districts following these gender-specific guidelines.
More information on this gender-specific park design project can be found (in German) under: https://www.wien.gv.at/menschen/frauen/stichwort/wohnen/maedchen.html
For the full report, go to: https://www.global-taskforce.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Towards_the_localization_of_the_SDGs.pdf
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