On 25 September 2015, the Member States of the United Nations agreed on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals, the global agenda that was pursued from 2000 to 2015, and will guide global action on sustainable development until 2030.
The inclusion of Goal 11 to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is, in large part, the fruit of the hard-fought campaign by local governments, their associations and the urban community.SDG11 marks a major step forward in the recognition of the transformative power of urbanization for development, and of the role of city leaders in driving global change from the bottom up.
In addition, through Goal 16 the SDGs aim to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Naturally, local governments play a critical role in building more effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, as interaction between the public sector and the people take place at the local level. For decades, local governments have led the way in experimenting with new forms of participatory decision-making, such as participatory budgeting and planning.
However, the role of local administrations in the achievement of the Agenda goes far beyond Goal 11 and Goal 16. All of the SDGs have targets that are directly or indirectly related to the daily work of local and regional governments. Local governments should not be seen as mere implementers of the agenda. Local governments are policy makers, catalysts of change and the level of government best-placed to link the global goals with local communities.
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)–the global association of local government associations– has prepared a guide for local governments about how local and regional governments can play a part in the achievement of this ambitious, integrated and universal agenda.