As countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, the inclusion of a separate goal on urbanization (SDG 11) was hailed as a breakthrough, establishing the significance of cities to the 2030 Agenda. Four years in, it is clear that cities matter beyond the confines of SDG 11. Interdependencies between SDG 11 and the other SDGs ripple throughout the agenda. Achieving them requires investments and policies that affect specific places, and there is increasing realization that overall global progress will depend in significant measure upon local leadership and action. Mayors and local government officials are forming the frontlines of SDG implementation, translating the agenda’s lofty and sometimes abstract aspirations into progress felt by real people living in real communities.
These local leaders are adapting goals and targets set at the national level to their own local realities, though a universally accepted set of metrics and indicators does not exist. They seek to advance the entire range of SDGs, as all of the SDGs matter for their constituents, even if they don’t have direct authority over every issue.
The SDG Leadership Cities Network brings together senior government officials from more than a dozen cities around the world that are at the cutting edge of pursuing local achievement of the SDGs. This community of practice among vanguard and high-ambition cities is defining what it means to pursue the SDGs at the local level.
This initiative of the Brookings Institution is supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and Rockefeller Bellagio Center.