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SDGs - 15.07.2020

Just out: new study reveals how municipalities, regions and their associations are embracing the SDGs
Caught in the COVID-19 storm, Europe’s local and regional governments and their associations are at risk of losing the progress made in the last few years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Although they are increasingly familiar with the Global Goals, they need further support to bring international ambitions to territorial realities.

This is what emerges from a new study led by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and PLATFORMA entitled “The 2030 Agenda through the eyes of local and regional governments’ associations”.

In times of COVID-19: the SDGs at a make-or-break moment

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and around the world has brought about unprecedented challenges for local and regional governments. In several countries, the pandemic has markedly deepened inequalities and has slowed down efforts to raise awareness and promote the work of the 2030 Agenda at local and regional level.

The current crisis and the uncertain future are a call for action. Every player around the globe has to act now,” said Tine Soens, Member of the City Council of Kortrijk (Belgium), CEMR and PLATFORMA Spokesperson on 2030 Agenda. “Local and regional leaders should not be afraid to take the leap! Our generation of politicians, civil servants and citizens is the generation that has to turn the tide.

The study at a glance

Based on a survey of 34 associations from 28 European countries, the study shows that one third use the SDGs as an important reference in their own development strategies, compared to only one fifth last year. What’s more, four out of five associations are aware of the SDGs.  The trend is clear: year after year, local and regional governments and their associations are increasingly making the efforts necessary to materialise the global agenda at local level.

But have the SDGs also gained traction among central governments? Our study shows that close to 80% of associations indicated that there is an official national strategy to implement the SDGs. For those who indicated that a national strategy has been set up, 59% specified that there is a clear mention of the need to support local and regional action in SDG implementation.

Nevertheless, there is still considerable room for improvement to bring about closer ties between all levels of government and to achieve global progress on sustainable development. To step up our efforts, the study offers a checklist for associations “Know where your members stand in the localisation of the SDGs”, a set of simple steps to contribute to Voluntary National Reporting and several key recommendations.   

What’s more, this 40-page publication is packed full of illustrative examples from the ground. Finally, it identifies persisting challenges and new opportunities that municipalities, regions and their associations have been encountering when working with the SDGs. These come at a timely moment as the pandemic continues to spread around the world.

Background information

This new study is based on a joint survey conducted by CEMR and PLATFORMA, designed in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). It is a follow up to the 2019 study “How local & regional government associations bring the SDGs to life” and the 2018 study “Sustainable Development Goals – How Europe’s towns and regions are taking the lead”.

The study was launched on 15 July 2020 at the occasion of the workshop Localising the Sustainable Development Goals organised by PLATFORMA during the United Nations’ 2020 High Level Political Forum  on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

PLATFORMA and CEMR are actively taking part in many of this virtual event’s sessions and webinars together with their partners and members.
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