Discussing about the Sustainable Development Goals: How can local governments align their work with them?

Jun 2, 2020

The Universidad Militar Nueva Granada and its International Relations, Strategy and Security Faculty, in collaboration with Cepei, the Secretariat of Cooperation and Institutional Liaison of the Cundinamarca Government and the Network of Experts on Territorial Paradiplomacy and Internationalization (REPIT), organized four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) discussion sessions. This series of virtual meetings gathered together local governments and a group of national and international experts on sustainable development, territories and multi-stakeholder work.

The global crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has evidenced the need to strengthen human capacities to find timely solutions, aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, that allow to make evident territorial needs. 

Government entities have played a notable role in this process to face health, economic and social challenges. However, these efforts could be strengthened through multi-stakeholder partnerships, which would allow to align local decisions to the SDGs, according to the needs of each territory.

The SDG´s Discussion Sessions sought to promote the local implementation of the SDGs, by integrating them into the development plans of the municipalities. They also wanted to inquire about the impacts of COVID-19 on the 2030 Agenda, and provide practical tools for partnerships building.

The Data area Coordinator of Cepei, Fredy Rodríguez, moderated  session 1 (May 26); And the Governance area Coordinator of Cepei, Javier Surasky, participated in session 2 (May 27) as a speaker.

Session I |  From the territory: Why is it important to link the SDGs to the local agenda?

“The territorialization of the SDGs is a call to put the territories and local governments at the center of sustainable development and understand that this is how we will be able to achieve the 2030 Agenda; However the territorialization of the SDGs in Colombia presents challenges such as the little appropriation and knowledge of the  Agenda or the limitations in the production and access to local data” [own translation]. 

“Colombia has an enabling context for the territorialization of the SDGs. Among the elements that make up this context are SDGs CONPES 3918 and territorial autonomy” [own translation]. 

“The territorialization of the SDG 2030 Agenda is a means to achieve a new model of inclusive sustainable development” [own translation]. 

“Leaving no one behind challenges us to understand the reality of each person, by taking into account its socioeconomic level, age, sex, locality…” [own translation]. 

“The sum of objective information and citizen perception surveys allow researchers and decision makers to measure the impact of policies in a more comprehensively manner” [own translation].

-Luis Hernán Sáenz, Red de Ciudades Cómo Vamos 

During the session, the Data area Coordinator of Cepei inquired about the relationship between data from non-traditional sources produced by the Red de Ciudades Cómo Vamos and the government, to be used as official statistics and in decision-making, due  that the statistical system requires more information to carry out SDG monitoring processes. Likewise, he stressed that a triangulation exercise is needed to connect global and national actors with local ones, to allow the latter to dialogue about their particular needs regarding the SDGs.

Session 2 | Impacts of COVID 19 on the SDG 2030 Agenda: perspectives from the local level

“The COVID-19 pandemic must not modify the commitment to the 2030 Agenda. The Agenda must become the central element for overcoming this crisis, as a medium and long-term strategy” [own translation]. 

“It is important that local post-pandemic responses consider the following: 1. Maintaining the 2030 Agenda as a medium and long-term strategy; 2. Supporting small entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises; 3. Promoting the role of women: from gender violence to promoting their self-organization; 4. Identifying new vulnerabilities that the crisis may have shown; 5. Strengthening the identification of multiple local actors; 6. Strengthening transparency in emergency management to build confidence when longer-term measures are subsequently adopted” [own translation]. 

“A capacities and vulnerabilities mapping is what will allow us to collect data and precise information to identify which tools will best support the population to overcome the COVID-19 crisis” [own translation]. 

“Something that COVID-19 teaches us is that it is very dangerous to postpone decisions in situations that are real threats simply because we are not sure that they will occur”  [own translation]. 

“It is important to think about how to promote local consumption as a tool not only for local economic development, but also to promote local resilience against external impacts, such as COVID-19” [own translation].

Javier Surasky, Cepei

Session 3 | Multi-stakeholder working tools for the implementation of the SDGs in the territory

“In the horizontal dimension of governance, it is essential to understand  citizens as producers and consumers of citizenships in a given space” [own translation]. 

“All citizens must be involved in local decision-making processes: let them feel part of the local government’s own institutional life, and of most territorial processes” [own translation]. 

“A citizenry that influences, that thinks, that collaborates in the design of local policies poses enormous challenges in terms of political legitimacy and the socialization of benefits. We have to improve local communication” [own translation]. 

“Internationalization exercises must be translated into specific territorial policies and programs. For example, from the execution of a participatory territorial development plan, aligned with the 2030 Agenda” [own translation]. 

“The design of alternative financing schemes, dialogue with multi-stakeholder networks, and the inclusion of the local private sector is essential in the decision-making processes of our territories.”

Nahuel Oddone, REPIT

Session 4 | A significant experience: aligning the SDGs to the local level 

“The food bank is a program that is aimed at the most vulnerable families in the Municipality of Cajicá.” Right now we have 395 families linked to the program. We are covering approximately 1,200 people, through a monthly food package, which covers a basic basket of non-perishable products, for a family of 4, which lasts for 15/20 days”  [own translation]. 

“As to how the SDGs are linked to the food program, we are working with four SDGs at the moment: SDG 2 (Zero Hunger); SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth); SDG 10 (Reduce Inequalities); SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)” [own translation]. 

“Concerning SDG 2, the food bank ensures the food security of its beneficiaries. We do this through the support of a nutritionist, who assembled the food package so that it covers nutritional requirements adequately” [own translation]. 

“With regard to SDG 8 and 10, in the food program we seek to train beneficiaries so that they can be hired in a good job” [own translation]. 

“With respect to SDG 17, we make strategic partnerships with the different secretariats of the mayor’s office and with private sector companies so that the beneficiaries of the program can get jobs” [own translation].

-Miriam del Pilar Pedraza, Cajicá´s Mayor’s Office

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