Role of local governments to accelerate SDGs in cities

THE 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda must be achieved at global, national, and subnational levels. Many cities are struggling to provide access to land and housing, support basic livelihoods, supply municipal services and implement longer-term planning and policy decisions.

Localisation relates both to how SDGs can provide a framework for local development policy and to how local and regional governments can support the achievement of the SDGs through action from the bottom up and to how the SDGs can provide a framework for local development policy.

SDG1- Local governments have a key role to end poverty in all its forms everywhere in strengthening resilience and protecting development gains by ensuring city residents and communities have the resources and capacities to reduce urban poverty. Cities can play a key role in addressing these challenges through bringing a multi-dimensional and dynamic approach to creating innovative solutions. Local governments can also identify vulnerable and poor communities and target resources to their needs.

SDG2 - Local governments can focus to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture through the implementation of reduce food waste, facilitate food transport and support urban agriculture production. As populations continue to grow and become increasingly urbanised, sustainable agricultural practices that make effective use of available land will be vital tools in achieving food security and a healthy population.

SDG30- Local governments can assist areas of need in locating health services, providing needed medical support to communities, coordinating prevention and response activities across departments. Local governments can implement traffic safety standards as well as cleaner air and water standards to decrease the impacts of pollution on the air, the water we drink and the soil we grow our food in.

SDG4 - Local governments are responsible for quality education and learning opportunities for all and are well-placed to identify local educational needs and trends. Primary and secondary education can be made equally accessible to all students regardless of gender and vocational training can be tailored to the employment prospects in a community.

SDG5 - Local governments can lead change by promoting gender equity within government positions and supporting the election of women to positions of power. Laws can be passed to prohibit harmful practices against women and girls, such as forced marriage and genital mutilation, and educational campaigns can raise awareness and promote a change in mindsets.

SDG6 - Local governments can address these challenges through practices that improve water quality and implementing sustainable waste management practices that can contribute to water-use efficiency by ensuring sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater and implementing city integrated water resource management policies

SDG7 - Local governments have a unique perspective into the energy needs and gaps in access for communities, and can directly address energy inefficiency challenges by investing in energy efficient buildings and good urban transport policies can contribute to lowering emissions and greening urban areas.

SDG8 - Local governments understand their local economies and are well-positioned to target particular industries or services that can lead to more and better jobs. Cities can promote tourism and sustainable practices in the industry to ensure that cultural heritage is maintained and protected while also creating jobs and supporting local livelihoods.

SDG9 - Good planning infrastructure and policy enable governments to facilitate positive impacts that come with good infrastructure and services for citizens. Local governments can also close gaps in internet and ICT access by providing public spaces that are connected, such as libraries or schools.

SDG10 - Local governments can contribute to reducing inequality in their cities by identifying and targeting resources towards underserved and vulnerable areas while ensuring equal opportunity for their urban dwellers. Governments can ensure that all communities have equal and fair access to public services and level the playing field for more vulnerable communities in this regard.

SDG11 - Local governments can promote healthier, more active lives for their citizens through the development of green spaces and reducing emissions in the process. Urban planning processes that are participatory, promote social cohesiveness and inclusion are becoming more vital with provision public transportation and access to affordable housing.

SDG12 - Local governments can pursue policies and practices that encourage sustainable consumption and production through the built environment, supply chains, land management, education and awareness. Cities can help communities transition to more sustainable consumption patterns of food and water, minimizing waste by pursuing recycling programs and composting organic waste.

SDG13 -. Cities are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and essential that local governments take the necessary steps to adapt to these changes and increase resilience. local governments should continue to lead by example by instituting policies that mitigate and adapt to impacts while ensuring that marginalized communities are not left behind.

SDG14 - Local governments can take steps to limit their pollutants by better management of sewage and wastewater, which is often directly discharged into oceans and rivers. Better treatment practices of sewer and industrial waste can help protect marine ecosystems and reduce coastal zone pollution.

SDG15- Local governments can make biodiversity and ecosystems considerations an integral component of urban planning strategies and ensure that community views are incorporated. Cities can protect natural spaces in their communities, protecting biodiversity, preserving green spaces and creating biodiversity corridors, which in turn lower emissions and mitigate climate impacts.

SDG16 - Local governments can develop policies that target areas of vulnerability in a community and work to address these with the aim of lowering rates of violence. Governments must lead by example in expunging corruption and ensuring transparency throughout all areas of work, increasing public access to information and improved participatory processes in decision-making.

SDG17 - Local governments will be key players in strengthening partnerships and generating revenue to achieve sustainable development and the SDGs. Cities can work to achieve coherence among their policy objectives and utilize data to target interventions and programs. Local governments have long been leaders in global partnerships and innovative uses of technology to improve participatory processes and generate better outcomes for their communities.

Cities will play a critical role in the 2030 Agenda, because much of the action required will be taken at the local level. Already, many cities are formulating and implementing innovative policy, projects, programmes and other initiatives designed to achieve sustainable growth and development.

The Malaysia SDG Cities is developed by Urbanice Malaysia, a Centre of Excellence under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that advocate the agenda for a sustainable urban nation for Malaysia and encourage all Malaysian cities to prepare its own sustainable development roadmap and action plans to meet their local needs and challenges.

The writer is Deputy CEO, Urbanice Malaysia

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