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How can we make citizens and municipal officials truly aware of the stakes of SDG implementation?

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The campaign work that LGAs carry out to raise SDG awareness among citizens and municipal officials is of crucial importance. To achieve genuine progress, it is essential that the role of SDGs and their added value be properly understood. In Belgium for example, VVSG has disseminated a guide consisting of a series of videos and webinars to mobilise municipalities and introduce SDGs to them and their citizens. Carried out in cooperation with provinces and the Flemish government, these webinars also included workshops on SDG methods. Regarding European LGAs’ familiarity with SDGs, 43% of the respondents knew them well, and used them as an important reference in their strategies within the organisation; 32% were aware of them and made references to them but they were not ranked high amongst their priorities; 14% had heard of them but were not aware of their relevance, and 11% did not know much about SDGs or of any relevance to their organization.

Some 66% of the 37 associations responding had introduced some changes to their SDG-related work: in Norway, a Strategy for SDG implementation was adopted by KS’ Executive Board, a VSR was produced and disseminated, and a taxonomic system was developed jointly with Statistic Norway in March 2022. In Serbia, SKGO formulated a new Strategic Plan for 2022-2025 that defines five objectives, each of which is associated with relevant SDGs. In South-East Europe, the SDGs have been increasingly the focus of activities relating to social policies under a ‘Localising SDGs Principle’ framework. In the United Kingdom (Scotland), the Scottish Government announced that it will make SDGs legally binding upon municipalities, and this has already had a significant impact at the local level and on the association.

In terms of adopting or developing a formal commitment, policy resolution, or strategy on the 2030 Agenda and/or on the implementation of the SDGs, approximately 80% of respondents had formulated some approach: over 40% had a strategy, policy paper, action plan and/or political statement; less than 20% had prepared reports on the localisation of SDGs in territories, including Voluntary Subnational Reviews or other sustainability reports, for their populations, national government or Parliament; over 20% of the respondents had not taken any steps, and less than 20% had recourse to other types/methods.

The voluntary subnational reviews at the core of the SDG process
Examples of SDG implementation plans

Belgium: Policy Bureau on European and International Affairs’ agreement to develop a VSR in support of the 2023 VNR; Bulgaria: NAMRB’s preparation of a long-term strategic plan for its future development, using the CEMR pluriannual strategy for reference. Denmark: Contribution to the 2021 Voluntary National Review (VNR); Finland: 2020 Strategy of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities; South-East Europe: NALAS Joint Declaration from the High-Level Forum "Integrating the 2030 Agenda in the Framework of Strategic Planning in Kosovo"; Spain: FEMP’s 2030 Agenda; EUDEL’s commitment to the Basque Country’s multilevel 2030 Agenda; Turkey: TBB's Strategic Plan for 2020-2024 includes support for municipalities to build their capacity to adopt and implement SDGs; Marmara Municipalities Union’s (MMU) Statute and Strategic Plan (2020-2024); United Kingdom: Scotland – COSLA Convention on SDG Localisation in Scotland (2019); UK VNR (2020) and Scottish VSR; England (LGA) – SDG motion. Of the 18 associations who responded to this question last year and this year, more than half experienced some changes

Regarding the promotion or active participation in concrete activities to raise awareness and disseminate information pertaining to the SDGs amongst the population and local stakeholders over the past year, 35% of the respondents reported that they had undertaken substantial and intensive actions to mobilize inhabitants and local stakeholders, 14% had increased mobilisation with additional partners, 11% had not carried out any promotional actions, 3% had organised meetings with municipalities focusing on SDGs and decentralised cooperation actions at the international level and 38% had conducted limited actions.

Examples of initiatives to raise awareness on the SDGs

Belgium: Week of the Sustainable Municipality, a format that LGs can use to raise SDG awareness and to spotlight good practices, e.g ‘Local Heroes for Global Goals’. Denmark: The regions get citizens, municipalities and other stakeholders involved in the preparation of regional development strategies, and projects are almost always carried out in collaboration with external stakeholders. Georgia: Organisation of workshops for Georgian mayors. Iceland: Toolbox for the planning, implementing and measuring of SDGs and organisation of training seminars for municipalities (both for elected representatives and officials). Italy: Venice City Solutions 2030; HLPF side event (for Venice City Solutions) and training seminars on the 2030 Agenda and localising of SDGs by LRGs. The Netherlands (LBSNN): LRGs require the incorporation of Global Goals 2030 into public events as well as their inclusion in the Local Education Agenda by their local Education sector. Malta: Organisation of capacity-building webinars for all local elected representatives. Norway: To ensure concrete progress in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda, KS has been working with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and other labour organisations to develop a national sustainability pledge. Spain (EUDEL): Coordination of 15 tractor projects propelling and promoting the SDGs by the networks of municipalities. Spain (FEMP): Agreements with universities on SDG implementation. Turkey (TBB): Awareness-raising activities using social media, launch of an SDG database and promotion of VLR processes and their incorporation into projects. Turkey (MMU): The “Golden Ant” Award 2020, which awards initiatives that contribute to sustainable urbanisation and high quality of life. UK (COSLA): Campaigns to localise decision-making and to align domestic policies with international standards post-Brexit. UK (LGA): Promotion of an SDG guide for councils (joint publication in 2020 with the UK Strategy on Sustainable Development). This year, the LGA worked with the Office for National Statistics and began producing local reports using the LG Inform data platform.

Who is in charge of coordinating the SDG-related work?

Has your organisation promoted or actively participated in concrete activities to raise awareness and disseminate SDG information among the population and local stakeholders (including your LRG members if you are a LRGA) in recent years?