Past Event

The inaugural meeting of SDG leadership cities

Thursday, April 04 - Saturday, April 06, 2019
The Bellagio Center

Rockefeller Foundation
Bellagio, DC

For the latest on city and community leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals, see the SDG Leadership Cities Network and Toolkit.

On April 3-6, 2019, Brookings hosted an international meeting of city leaders in Bellagio, Italy. The convening focused on local application of the 2030 Agenda among a select group of cities at the vanguard of local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The targets and outcomes of the SDGs are set at the national level to drive environmental, economic, and social sustainability. However, these leadership cities, among many others around the world, are harnessing the power of SDGs as a blueprint for their local progress.

The goal of the meeting was to foster a collaborative and informative atmosphere where city leaders could share pressing challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned from their journey implementing the SDGs locally. The different agenda topics each took advantage of the diverse group of cities involved:

  • Session I: Setting the stage: A Closer Look at the Preparatory Survey Results
  • Session II: Aligning against the SDGs: Translating a Global Agenda to the Local Context
  • Session III: Using Analysis to Focus SDG Efforts
  • Session IV: Small Group: Aligning, Analyzing, Measuring
  • Session V: Taking Action to Achieve the Goals
  • Session VI: Mobilizing Resources: New Avenues for Financing and Partnerships
  • Session VII: Telling the Story
  • Session VIII: Creating the Movement

Download the full agenda and more information on the convening

Download the event brief

After the meeting adjourned, Brookings consolidated the outcomes and recommendations into a policy brief, “Shaping the Global Agenda to Maximize City Leadership on the SDGs,” providing key takeaways for those undertaking or supporting local implementation of the SDGs. Brookings also gathered a list of innovations from city officials to spark the creativity of other cities localizing the SDGs.

This SDG leadership cities convening was unique in that it brought together the city leaders themselves for meaningful sharing and transparent discussion on the SDGs, with additional similar engagements planned for 2019 and 2020.

Thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation for use of the Rockefeller Bellagio Center for this gathering.


  • Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of International Affairs
  • Erin Bromaghim, Director of Olympic and Paralympic Development, LA Mayor’s Office of International Affairs
  • Kaysie Brown, Head of Policy Planning, UN Foundation
  • Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability & Resilience, City of Orlando
  • Grant Ervin, Assistant Planning Director & Chief Resilience Officer, City of Pittsburgh
  • Nicholas Gharbi, Senior Advisor, Madrid City Council
  • Diana Alarcón González, Chief Advisor and Foreign Affairs Coordinator, Mexico City
  • Alex Hiniker, Program Director, NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs
  • Christian Hübel, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Mannheim Mayor’s Office
  • Sanna-Mari Jäntti, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Helsinki Mayor’s Office
  • Allan Macleod, SDG Research and Engagement Associate, Bristol City Council
  • Beryl Mphakathi, Deputy City Manager for Human Settlements, Engineering and Transport, Ethekwini Municipality (Durban)
  • Tony Pipa, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
  • Nirav Patel, Research Analyst, Brookings Institution
  • Patricia Purcell, Head of Partnerships, UN Global Compact
  • Moses Quarshie, Business and Investment Advisor, Accra Metropolitan Assembly
  • Caterina Sarfatti, Head of Inclusive Climate Action, C40 Cities
  • Makoto Sekiyama, Executive Officer for Global Partnerships & Networking, City of Yokohama
  • Lena Wetterskog Sjöstedt, Head of the Office for Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda at the City of Malmö
  • Maria Vittoria Beria, Director of International Affairs, Milan Mayor’s Office