The SDGs provide an unprecedented opportunity to align global, national and subnational priorities and engage all stakeholders at the local level in efforts towards sustainable development. If current trends continue, by 2050 cities will host approximately 70 per cent of the world’s population and produce 85 per cent of global economic output. Urbanization is not only a demographic or spatial phenomenon but a force which, if steered and deployed correctly, can help the world overcome some of its major global challenges. Urban policy decisions can have extraordinarily far-reaching impacts across all the SDGs, including poverty alleviation and reduction of inequalities, climate mitigation and adaptation, promotion of safety and good governance and in ensuring access to energy, transportation, waste management, food supply, water and sanitation, education, health care, technology infrastructure including broadband and online public services, and others, not just for urban populations but also for the surrounding peri-urban and rural areas.
In the Political Declaration adopted at the 2019 SDG Summit, Member States reaffirmed the critical role of cities, local authorities and communities in implementing and realizing the SDGs and committed to empowering and supporting them in pursuing the 2030 Agenda. An increasing number of national governments are already supporting the localization of the SDGs in cities and regions, both through technical co-operation and financial support, but more support is needed. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only added unprecedented challenges for cities, including pressure on their health care, education and safety systems, and disproportionally affected the most vulnerable groups of the society.
Local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in subnational reviews of SDG implementation, including by preparing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR). These reviews, modelled after the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), have proven useful for local governments to foster SDG localization and to demonstrate their capacity and commitment towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Local governments in all regions of the world have already prepared such reviews with many more currently going through the process, resulting in tangible benefits to SDG implementation at large. Several Voluntary National Review countries have also integrated findings from VLRs in their national level reviews.Proposed guiding questions:
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