On November 4-5, 2019, Brookings hosted the second convening of the SDG Leadership Cities initiative in Mexico City, Mexico. The meeting built on the momentum from the inaugural convening in Bellagio, Italy to further explore the local application and pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with leaders from 13 cities.
Gatherings of the SDG Leadership Cities group are conducted in roundtable format, with topics explored in highly interactive sessions designed to promote exchange by the senior city officials of their best practices, innovations, and challenges. A key objective is to build relationships and opportunities for continued engagement. Sessions are held under Chatham House Rule to encourage peers to engage in candid discussion and problemsolving including limits, challenges, and obstacles.
Four themes were identified through feedback and interest from cities participating in the leadership network:
- Data and Reporting. Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs)—pioneered by New York City based on the country-level reviews that member states submit to the United Nations—are emerging as an important tool for local leaders to track city-level progress in pursuing the SDGs and are providing a new basis for city-to-city exchanges. At the Mexico City meeting, leaders from cities that have developed VLRs presented lessons, challenges, and innovations on using data and VLRs to analyze gaps in progress and translate those gaps into the basis for targeted actions. The group also examined whether a subset of indicators can act as a shared dashboard among cities. Cities also explored opportunities to leverage data and reporting platforms to uncover the SDGs’ hidden connections across sectors.
- Financing. Cities play an important role in achieving the SDGs through capital expenditures, infrastructure maintenance and operation, and local public services. Many cities are testing financial models, budget rationalization, and new means of financing the SDGs, including municipal bonds and public-private partnerships. The session explored how policy commitments to the SDGs provide the basis for developing new financing solutions to close the financing gap required to achieve the SDGs.
- Procurement. The Bellagio meeting revealed significant appetite among participants to pursue individual and collective initiatives on sustainable public procurement. Certain cities are changing their procurement policies to reflect their priorities within the SDGs. This session further explored the integration of sustainability criteria into municipal bids and purchasing processes, as well as the challenges in balancing trade-offs among different focus areas within the 2030 Agenda. The group also discussed collective city action on procurement, which shows promise as a powerful tool for shaping markets and accelerating investments that will drive progress.
- Security. The multidimensional nature of the SDGs, and the challenge of SDG 16 on the centrality of peace and justice to the sustainable development agenda, provide a collaborative platform to address the interlinked issues of violence, safety, social cohesion, and inclusive economic growth as the basis for safer cities. Making cities more secure benefits from a coordinated multistakeholder response. The session explored the interrelationships of urban security, especially as it relates to education, economic opportunities, and youth engagement.
Mexico City, as host, had the opportunity to present the city’s sustainable development strategy and deepen participants’ understanding of the local experiences and practices.
SDG Leadership Cities Network
- Diana Alarcón González, Chief Advisor and Foreign Affairs Coordinator, Mexico City
- Maria Vittoria Beria, Director of International Affairs, Office of the Mayor, Milan
- Maria Alejandra Botiva, District Planning Secretary, Bogota
- Erin Bromaghim, Director of Olympic and Paralympic Development, Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Los Angeles
- Kaysie Brown, Head of Policy Planning, UN Foundation
- Mariana Cammisa, SDGs Analyst, General and International Affairs Secretariat, Buenos Aires
- Mariana Flores Mayén, Executive Director for Institutional Representation, Mexico City
- Nicolas Gharbi, Global Urban Policy, City of Madrid
- Alex Hiniker, Program Director, Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, New York City
- Christian Hübel, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Mayor, Mannheim
- Jani Moliis, Head of International Affairs, Helsinki
- Beryl Mphakathi, Deputy City Manager for Human Settlements, Engineering and Transport, Durban (Ethekwini Municipality)
- Shuma Panse, Senior Program Officer, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Breanna Rose, Operations & Partnerships Director, Hawai’i Green Growth, Hawaii
- Ricardo Williams, Manager of Equity and Inclusion, City of Pittsburgh
- Toshikazu Yazawa, Director, Office of the City of Yokohama, Rep. to the Americas, Yokohama
- Leticia Gutiérrez Lorandi, Director-General, Policy Coordination and Environmental Culture, Ministry of Environment, Mexico City
- Liliana Rosales Contreras, Office of the Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mexico City
- Rachel Locke, Director, Impact:Peace, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego
- Stefano Marta, Coordinator, Territorial Approach to SDGs, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD
- Andreas Stamm, Senior Researcher, German Development Institute
- Gavin Templeton, Head of Sustainable Finance, Green Investment Group, United Kingdom
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