The SDG Voluntary Local Reviews. Methods, data, and experiences.
The session, which tackles the specific issue of the SDG Local Voluntary Reviews (VLRs), was divided into three main parts.
The first part focused on the challenges of SDG monitoring both on a national (presentation delivered by Paolo Bolsi –DG REGIO) and local scale.
Local SDG monitoring is the specific target of the project illustrated in the second presentation by Alice Siragusa (Joint Research Centre – EC): the European Handbook for the preparation of VLRs has been presented both in terms of rationale and draft content.
The second part of the workshop was a panel debate moderated by Paola Proietti (Joint Research Centre – EC) that discussed the challenges and opportunities that the localisation of Agenda 2030 presents.
Peter Schmidt, European Economic and Social Committee, illustrated the main messages of the EESC opinion on the Reflection Paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030 and underlined the need for a shift in economic model if we want to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
Paulius Kulikauskas (UN-HABITAT) provided an overview of the activities that UN-HABITAT has been putting in place to support cities in localising the SDGs, particularly focusing on the training for monitoring different SDG indicators. Moreover, he highlighted how the relation between the national and local SDG monitoring system and procedures still needed to be formally defined.
Sarah Bentz from the Council of European Municipalities and Regions & PLATFORMA (CEMR – Platforma) highlighted how some cities and regions have taken the lead and started producing SDG Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). City-to-city and region-to-region cooperation with partner countries is also a very effective way to support subnational governments in the monitoring phase of their SDG implementation.
Finally, Jani Moliis, Head of International Affairs, City of Helsinki, illustrated the process that led the city of Helsinki to present the VLR to the last High Level Political Forum, highlighting the speed of the process and commitment of the city to present the next VLR in 2021.
In the third part, questions and comments from the floor gathered from Alessandro Rainoldi (Joint Research Centre – EC) demonstrated the great interest in the topic both from EU institutions and local authorities. The comments focused mostly on the challenges that come with localising the SDGs, in particular on how to raise awareness and develop local competences on the Agenda 2030; how to align the efforts of local, national and international institutions and find a common language and common ground for achieving the Goals.
Take away message
· There is a need to raise awareness about the SDGs in the EU in institutions at all levels, from EU to local authorities. Furthermore, citizens need to be involved.
· Monitoring and policy design should go hand in hand, being part of the same process.
· To achieve real sustainability, we need to make SDGs an integral goal of policy action, not just window dressing.
"Local and regional governments are bringing up the debate on SDGs at national level – they are paving the way to achieving the 2030 Agenda through SDG localisation and already have an array of experience and practices to share with their peers, in Europe and in partner countries."
Sarah Bentz, CEMR & PLATFORMA
"When we started we expected to find that we were not on track concerning the initiatives to achieve sustainable development, but in reality we realised we were already targeting the challenges summarised in the SDGs."
Jani Moliis, City of Helsinki
"Unless we change our paradigm, and thus the way we measure sustainable development, we will not be able to successfully achieve the Goals."
Peter Schmidt, European Economic and Social Committee
“The SDGs cannot be achieved without cities; at the same time, the SDGs offer an opportunity for cities to expand new and sustainability initiatives."
Alice Siragusa, Joint Research Centre – EC