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Experiences in realizing SDGs shared at SDG Cities Deep Dive |  Updated:2023-11-06

“Technical workshop: SDG Cities Deep Dive” was held at Tongji University on Oct 29, 2023. This event was one of the five in the third SDG Cities Global Conference. Representatives, experts and scholars from various countries including Australia, Portugal, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Kingdom shared their experiences with the Global Urban Monitoring Framework (UMF), Voluntary Local Review (VLR) and Own-Source Revenue (OSR). They also discussed the challenges and opportunities they encountered in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lyu Peiming, executive vice-president of Tongji University, highlighted the university's role in promoting SDGs. Notably, Tongji University professors initiated the establishment of World Cities Day and have actively participated in the development of the Shanghai Adapted Index.

Over the past 20 years, Tongji University has worked in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and established the UNDP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development. This institute has educated over 300 international students in sustainable development and many professors in sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region graduated from the university.

Dyfed Aubrey, Senior Human Settlements Officer of UN-Habitat and lead of SDG Cities Global Initiative, explained the event was split into three segments. The first focuses on utilizing UMF tools to measure sustainable development in cities. The second involves sharing action-oriented VLR experiences to identify actions for realizing the 2030 Agenda. The third centers on establishing effective local institutions and introducing new tools for rapid income source analysis, digital diagnostic tools for institutional capacity building, and tools for identifying challenges and opportunities in governance, planning, income, transportation, waste management and water affairs.

Aubrey stressed the crucial role of data in systematic analysis, identifying advantages and threatsand involving stakeholders. He noted that the success of sustainable development campaigns depends on cities having sound planning, accountability systems, inclusive governance, service delivery and sources of income.    

Dennis Mwaniki,a geospatial data expert from UN-Habitat provided insight into the application of the UMF and explained how to implement the Urban Monitoring Framework (UMF) and collect data for monitoring and evaluation. He cited the city of Mombasa in his home country of Kenya, as an example of successful UMF use, leading to strategic investments in water sources and lighting, thereby enhancing the city's sustainability.

Riccardo Maroso, Programme Officer at UN-Habitat, discussed the localization of SDGs and VLR, and the process of launching programs to identify priorities and make strategic plans for sustainable development goals.

Ville Taajamaa, project manager of UN Agenda 2030 work,city of Espoo, Finland, spoke on the usage and importance of VLR for achieving SDGs. He emphasized that the implementation of VLR requires the participation of all stakeholders, including government leaders, council members, citizens, NGOs, children and businesses. He stated that VLR aids in forming a comprehensive SDG strategy and integrating SDGs into city development.

Tanya Neish, Manager of Strategy and Governance of Brisbane City Council, Australia, shared their success in executing the action-oriented VLR, involving diverse stakeholders in the process. They highlighted the importance of this participation in creating a sustainable procedure and detailing the SDG indicators. The VLR in Brisbane focuses on four themes: resilience, healthy and green development, carbon neutrality, inclusiveness, diversification and justice, and livability and inter-connectivity.

Lennart Fleck, programmemanagement officer of Urban Finance at UN-Habitat,introduced the tool of income source analysis, which assists cities in optimizing revenues. He emphasized the importance of OSR, as it identifies potential income that might otherwise go uncollected, and encourages cities to transition to viable income sources.

George Ofori-Atta,head of non-tax policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Planning of Ghana, shared insights into the process of localizing SDGs, which involved stakeholders like experts, traditional local authorities and intellectual institutions. This process included collecting baseline data on the economy, education, health, and businesses of various sizes.

Marta Dutschmann Gomes, Councillor of Municipality of Mafra, Portugal,shared the experience of Mafra, Portugal, in engaging more cities, NGOs, and private departments in achieving SDGs. She spoke about SDG labs and centers exploring solutions for river restoration, proper waste sorting and treatment. Gomes underscored the importance of VLR in realizing SDGs.

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