7 Conclusions and way forward towards 2030

Tine Soens

PLATFORMA Spokesperson on SDGs, Member of the Municipal Council of Kortrijk, VVSG

Gail Macgregor

CEMR Spokesperson on the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, Councillor of Dumfries and Galloway, North Ward, COSLA

"In these times of permanent crisis, we must not lose sight of our global and common sustainability agenda. Keeping alive the movement of local and regional governments and their associations toward sustainability is crucial! LRGs are better placed to directly grasp and address the full scope of the current large-scale challenges – climate, biodiversity, health pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine – and should lead the sustainable and multidimensional transitions that now need to take place. But to implement these changes, we need a strong coordination, commitment and sufficient resources at national and European levels, as well as regular dialogue in the spirit of good collaboration.

We are also calling for firm recognition and inclusion by national governments and the European institutions of LRGs and LRGAs in the monitoring and reporting of progress in the national and European reports. The EU has secured such official recognition with the presentation of its “EUVRfor the first time this year. And we call for this first EU report to reflect our territorial realities.

We are also convinced that the European states and the EU need to strengthen the support given to the subnational levels in the international arena and include them in any relevant high-level delegation meetings (including High-Level Political Forums and other fora hosted by the UN). We hope that the SDGs will be a core focus of every continental summit and dialogue organised by the EU, including this year’s EU-Latin America summit. We also look forward to full recognition of LRGs’ role by the new European Parliament and Commission that are to be elected next year. They should all walk the talk about multilevel governance.

Moreover, decentralised cooperation and partnerships are crucial instruments to achieve the 2030 Agenda at the local and regional levels. Sharing and learning from peers in Europe and further afield bring expertise and inspiration to attaining the goal of decarbonised societies, in a coherent, just, and inclusive way. We at CEMR and PLATFORMA continue to support the global 2030 Agenda in Europe and around the world, particularly through more innovative partnerships with peers.

Only six summers remain if we are to make this a decade of action. To do so, we must work in partnership within Europe and beyond our borders. As associations representing LRGs, CEMR and PLATFORMA have always ensured that they not only listen to the subnational level, but give it a voice as well, and we stand ready to assist, exchange, and improve local capacity to anticipate and respond to any future crises and situations.

Therefore, part of the success of achieving the 2030 Agenda is raising the awareness of citizens and people about the global challenges the world and their locality are facing, equipping them with critical thinking and offering spaces for them to understand, engage in and contribute to the solutions. Global citizenship education – in which LRGs have a key role to play – needs to be further developed, tapping into both formal and informal mechanisms as well as settings. This is all the more essential now when SDG 11 is being reviewed.

We will continue this year to be a valuable source for information on the state of progress of the SDGs at local and regional levels in Europe, thanks to the strong support of our national associations, findings which we will also share with peers around the world. Our study comes at a propitious moment for HLPF, which will be followed this year by the SDG Summit in September 2023 in New York, marking the midpoint of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Localising the global agenda has never been more important than in today’s world. As the world takes a closer in-depth look at SDG11, we hope it will see all that the local level has to offer and how it is actively engaged, being directly impacted by all global policies.

Lastly, we stand by our peers in Ukraine and other territories in conflict and crisis. We remain firmly convinced that, through local democracy and peer-to-peer dialogue, anchored in the value of peace that has united our municipalities across Europe since 1951, we will build a more sustainable world for people today and for the next generations."