Four years ago, on 25 September 2015, more than 150 world leaders adopted the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Summit. The Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, aim to end poverty, hunger and inequality, take action on the climate crisis and the environment, improve access to health and education, build strong institutions and partnerships, create sustainable communities, and more. This bold vision of a global community coming together to achieve a better world for all people and for our planet has yet to become reality.
Progressive mayors and presidents of regions are committed to act for the SDGs. In fact, 65% of the SDGs targets depend on them. This week, they took part in the UN Climate Action Summit (23 September), as well as the Summit on Sustainable Development Goals (24-25 September), held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly High Level Week in New York.
Their political message is very clear: the work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals begins at local level, so cities and regions must be part of the vision of a future where no people and no places are left behind.
Several PES Group members had the opportunity to voice their concerns and convey their message, actions, and commitments to high-level political actors in order to urge them to stand by their commitments.
Speaking at the “Local and Regional Government Forum” organised by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, Peter Kurz, Lord Mayor of Mannheim, showcased the importance of localising global agendas, underlining that Mannheim “has recently introduced a ‘Voluntary Local Review’, a voluntary report on the implementation of the SDGs. Sustainable development starts at the local level and needs to take into account social cohesion, economic development and the fight against poverty.”
Progressive cities and regions have been pioneers in localising the Sustainable Development Goals but they need more support to be able to end poverty, take climate action and build sustainable communities. This is the main message of Fernando Medina, mayor of Lisbon, who emphasised that “every day we are seeing the challenges of climate change. One of our priorities is SDG 13, that is the urgent call for taking action to combat climate change and its impact. In Lisbon, the European Green Capital in 2020, we are acting strongly on mobility with improvements on the public transport system, on nature-based solutions like the increase of green infrastructure and on energy efficiency. We need more support to act now and together.”
Apresentei os nossos avanços na mobilidade, nos espaços verdes e na eficiência energética e reforcei o compromisso com a ação climática e com a mobilização de todos.— Fernando Medina (@FMedina_PCML) September 22, 2019
Lisboa 2020 Capital Verde da Europa vai ser o ponto de encontro de todos. #ClimateAction #UN @c40cities #egca2020 pic.twitter.com/VKY1gW7n1Q
He was joined in his call by the mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas, who presented the projects implemented in his city aimed at involving citizens in building sustainable communities.
Sevilla trabaja en red con otras ciudades del mundo para resolver problemas comunes: los proyectos de movilidad urbana para reducir emisiones y la construcción sostenible de vivienda pública centran nuestros objetivos. @ccrecemr @uclg_org @EU_Commission @Europarl_es @PES_CoR pic.twitter.com/gyecrbbXX5— Juan Espadas Cejas (@JuanEspadasSVQ) September 25, 2019
André Viola, President of the Aude Departmental Council (France), offered in the point of view of a progressive region, stressing that “sustainable development is not only a climate issue. It is a comprehensive global agenda, aiming at ‘leaving no one behind’. The goals are addressed to all territories. They highlight the challenges common to all territories, for which it is necessary to look for a shared solutions.”
“Hundreds of thousands of our children are climate striking on the streets this week all across the world shouting that we are careless about their future, they demand us to act now. Cities can make a change, boost the transition so I call all local politicians to join the fight!”, highlighted Kata Tüttő, Budapest local councillor, who also joined the UN Summits in New York.
Fortunately, there are positive developments at European level. In mid-September, Commission Vice-President-designate Frans Timmermans announced that he would propose the first European Climate Law during the first 100 days of his new term of office.
Many PES Group members are taking part in their cities and regions in the United Nations global week of action to act for the Sustainable Development Goals, calling for action at all levels, and standing up with their citizens to fight for a more sustainable planet.