The clock is ticking, 6 years have already passed since the establishment of Agenda 2030, which translates into a need for action. As the world turns towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we make up for lost time if we are to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the end of the decade.Why it matters
On 28 and 29 October 2021, the AER and our partners UCLG, the Global Taskforce, Regions4, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the City of Strasbourg and the Region of Grand Est will gather local and regional stakeholders from around the world to call upon national and global leaders to strengthen multilevel dialogue in order to facilitate local-to-global leadership on the 2030 Agenda.
The goal of the Conference is to show that regions play a key role, alongside cities, in facilitating the transformation which is required to successfully implement and achieve the goals in the 2030 Agenda.
In 2015, 193 member states signed a formal commitment in which 17 Sustainable Development Goals to accomplish by 2030 were established. Six years have passed since then, but with all eyes fixed on managing the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, valuable time has been lost. As we look beyond the pandemic and towards recovery, now is the time for national governments to redouble efforts and meet their commitment to achieving the 17 Goals.
But member states cannot do it on their own – the UN has made this clear: at least 100 of the 169 targets underlying the 17 SDGs will not be reached without proper engagement of and coordination with regional and local governments. We should be aware that the 17 Goals will not be achieved thanks to the commitment of national, regional and local authorities alone, but will also require the help and support of all key actors within civil society.
For good governance on the implementation of national sustainability strategies, it is necessary to ensure vertical and horizontal coherence, to drive stakeholder engagement and to foster full, collaborative multi-level governance which engages EU, national, regional and local authorities.
Regional authorities are among the best placed to meet the needs of the urban and rural areas that make up each country. Therefore, and as already outlined by the European Committee of the Regions, regions and other key stakeholders should be involved in the different phases of policy-making; in turn giving a bottom-up approach to the decision-making process. This means that input from NGOs, citizens and local stakeholders is key to define actions and objectives when designing local and regional strategies.
CC Original photo by Neptuul
A crucial lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the common challenges we face do not respect borders. As the AER set out in our 2020 Position Paper on the Sustainable Development Goals, the only way we can successfully navigate this journey is by working together.
With this Conference, the Assembly of European Regions along with its main partners: UCLG, the Global Taskforce, Regions 4, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the City of Strasbourg, and the Region of Grand Est (FR), aim to gather all relevant stakeholders and provide them with the necessary tools, through a series of workshops that will cover a wide-range of aspects of the Agenda 2030. Our hope is to empower regions to become allies and contributors when it comes to changing the world by achieving the Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.
When we talk about regions, we talk about all its components, from regional authorities to citizens, through academia and researchers, industry and civil-society organisations.
The only prerequisite for participation is a passion and commitment towards achieving the SDGs in your region.
The success of our shared endeavour demands joined-up thinking and action at all levels of government. National and regional strategies, much like the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, do not exist in vacuums. When implementing sustainable development strategies, it is crucial that we join forces to set out a common action plan to ensure that European regions will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Similarly, it is key that relevant actors taking part in the Conference are made aware of the need for multi-level governance and a multi-stakeholder approach when it comes to implementing and achieving the SDGs.
The Conference will conclude with the adoption of a Roadmap, which will set out the future steps that regional authorities and relevant stakeholders should adopt in order to close the gap and achieve these 17 most salient goals.