Localising the SDGs
20 July 2023
The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) takes place at the UN Headquarters annually under the auspices of ECOSOC. It plays a central role in following up and reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Voluntary national reviews
Countries use the HLPF as a platform to report on their progress towards meeting the SDGs through voluntary national reviews, and the HLPF also reviews progress on specific goals, this year the goals under review were SDGs 6, 7, 9, 11 and 17. SDG11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable is, of course, a critical goal for local government and is vital for the achievement of so many of the other SDGs.
Importance of local action
CLGF and its membership have been consistently emphasising the important role that local and regional governments play in achieving the SDGs and this message is definitely gaining traction beyond the local government community. A number of the sessions at the HLPF referenced the importance of localisation and there was a whole session on Transformation from the ground up: Acting at local level, addressed by local government representatives as well as other stakeholders. Download the Joint Statement to the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
Call for multi level governance
This is, of course, very welcome, but in order for localisation to be effective it requires further changes to enable and empower local and regional governments. The GTF, of which CLGF is a member, issued a statement (add link) calling for a greater focus on multi-level governance, access to adequate finance at the local level and for more VNRs/VLRs to reflect the contribution of local and regional governments towards achieving the SDGs. Together with UNDESA, UN Habitat, UNDP and the Local 2030 Coalition, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments organised a half day event inside the UN Building which brought together local leaders from across the world to share how they are already localising the SDGs and to reinforce their commitment to doing more.
The opening session was addressed by the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Hon Amina Mohammed, Mr Achim Steiner the Administrator of UNDP, Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat), Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, UN DESA, and Ms. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President of Nouakchott Region, Mauritania and President of UCLGA, spoke on behalf of local and regional governments from across the GTF. Lucy Slack, representing CLGF was proud to provide the closing remarks. This session was followed by a full day of exchange and learning on localisation, voluntary local and subnational reviews, high impact partnerships for SDG11 and media for cities, bringing together local and regional governments, partner organisations and experts.
The HLPF 2023 was also an opportunity for member states to plan for the SDG Summit in September. This summit will mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, many of which, including SDG11, remain seriously off-track. SDG Localisation is already recognised by the UN as one of the six enablers for accelerating progress, so the meeting in September will be another important milestone for our constituency to work with other actors on the fundamental questions of how this can be achieved and more importantly how quickly.
Leaving no-one and no place behind
Statistics state that at least 65% of all SDGs will require local action if they are to be achieved, in reality it is probably more than that, and we know that local and regional governments have a crucial role in planning and delivering those essential services. It is important that we continue to position our sector at home and internationally, in recognition of ensuring we leave no one and no place behind.
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