We agreed a partnership with Sheffield City Council to explore the local relevance, interpretation and implementation of SDG goals, targets and indicators at city level, through pilot work applying the SDG framework to key local strategies and associated delivery plans.
In-depth analysis was carried out in each participating city by local researchers together with local authority partners, in parallel with a comparative component, with all cities involved in cross-city learning and interaction. This included knowledge exchange workshops in Kisumu (2017), Cape Town (2018), and Sheffield (2019). Full findings were then brought together to feed back to ongoing UN revisions of SDG targets and indicators.
Project outputs include:
- a Policy Brief based on the findings from the workshop organised with UKSSD.
- a series of 'City Briefs', which give an introduction to the case study cities and how they have started to engage with the SDGs, including the UN's recommended Tier 1 infictaors for Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities.
- an evidence submission to the Environmental Audit Committee's follow up inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK (September 2018), based on our learning from international partners about how SDG localisation can be supported and enabled.
The Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form part of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, a global agenda for sustainability adopted in 2015 by the UN General Assembly. The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals and are for all countries regardless of their level of development. There are 17 Global Goals with various associated targets and indicators, that together focus on ending poverrt, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. 193 countries—including the UK—have formally adopted the SDGs and are required to report on progress over the period 2016-30. Goal 11 focuses on Sustainable Cities and Communities and aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This has led to a greater focus than in previous UN initiatives on the importance of city-level actors and efforts to localise the SDGs.
The New Urban Agenda
The New Urban Agenda (NUA) was adopted at the Habitat III summit in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016 and formally adopted by the UN General Assembly on 22 December 2016. The NUA set out a vision for sustainable urban development and is the guiding document for the UN's urban engagements over the next 20 years. Although, for political reasons, there is no formal link between the NUA and the SDGs, there is widespread consensus that the SDGs, especially Goal 11 and the urban elements of the other goals, should constitute the de facto monitoring and evaluation framework for the NUA.
Mistra Urban Futures pilot project and contribution to Goal 11
Mistra Urban Futures undertook a comparative pilot project in 2015 to test potential targets and indicators for the Urban Sustainable Development Goal (Goal 11). The pilot tested the data availability, relevance and appropriateness of the draft targets and indicators for Goal 11. This was carried out in the four cities where Mistra's Local Interaction Platforms are based: Cape Town, Gothenburg, Greater Manchester (now Sheffield-Manchester) and Kisumu, as well as in Bangalore as a contribution to the Urban SDG Campaign, of which the Centre was a member.
A key conclusion of the pilot study was that if Goal 11 is to be a useful tool to encourage local and national authorities to make positive invesments in urban sustainability transitions, then it is vital that it should prove widely relevant, acceptable and practicable. In this diverse set of cities, the pilot study found that not one draft indicator was regarded as both important or relevant and easy to report on at city level. Based on these results, a set of recommendations was produced, which were taken up directly by the UN statistical team in UN DESA (United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs) in charge of finalising the targets and indicators. Some of these recommendations are reflected in the final version of Agenda 2030 adopted by the UN General Assembly.
The international project team is led by David Simon and Sandra Valencia, and also includes researchers Sylvia Croese, Kristina Diprose, Aishwarya KS, Joakim Nordqvist, Michael Oloko, Tarun Sharma, Nick Taylor Buck, Ileana Versace and Yutika Vora, together with city partners. Locally, the work in Sheffield is overseen by Realising Just Cities Director Beth Perry.
The Sheffield research team forged a partnership with UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) to facilitate an exchange of practices at the national level. Aided by a grant from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Realising Just Cities and UKSSD co-designed and co-delivered a two-day workshop with local authorities and stakeholders from other cities. Download the illustrated policy brief, Localising the Sustainable Development Goals, to learn from that event.