Local and regional authorities are at the forefront of sustainable development. It has long been acknowledged that the local level is one where citizens are most informed and indeed engaged. Their role in realising the 2030 Agenda has been increasingly acknowledged. However, much more needs to be done to meaningfully engage them in the implementation, follow up and review of its global goals. A multi-level and multi-actor approach is needed to localise the agenda, as only with the full participation of local and regional authorities will it be possible to implement the 2030 agenda.
Some of the most fundamental challenges are the localisation of the SDGs, political willingness and financing. The sub-national contexts are not always embedded within national SDG strategies, compromising the alignment of efforts, as well as the ownership, coordination and partnership principles which are the foundation of the 2030 Agenda. One major reason for this limited localisation process is the lack of effective multi-level mechanisms for coordination and follow up of the SDGs.
To help European regions and cities overcome these challenges, all stakeholders have to find a long-term European strategy for a sustainable Europe by 2030 and organisations such as AER have a large role to play in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. It is important and necessary to have different voices from different levels push from the bottom to implement the SDGs.
Moreover, we need to bear the importance of the regions and the necessity of taking a holistic approach to implementing the goals in mind. As Maria Nikolopoulou, Member of the Sustainable Development Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee, has put it, we need to liken the SDGs to a Rubik’s cube: you have many pieces connected together and you can only manage to solve it if you have a strategy, you have to move the pieces in coordination without trying to fix just one part but the cube as a whole.