14 July 2022 “Acting locally for global sustainability”

Speech by Parliamentary State Secretary Bärbel Kofler at the HLPF Side Event “Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) connection to national implementation of the 2030 Agenda”

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Mayor Dörner,
Mayor López,
Mr Pahl,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The clock is ticking, because we are already half-way through the time allotted for achieving the 17 goals of our 2030 Agenda. But we are lagging far behind with our implementation timetable.

The pandemic, various conflicts, growing inequalities and unchecked environmental destruction have all played a part in pushing us way off track.

Around the world, poverty is growing and we are facing the threat of a global hunger crisis.

All of which means that we – the international community – urgently need to step up our efforts and finally work our way through the big agendas for humanity.

The only way we can follow this path is if we do it with strong municipalities, because the vast majority of the goals we are pursuing can only be achieved if local governments and administrations develop viable solutions for municipal tasks. And implement them.

The 2030 Agenda must, therefore, be underpinned at the local level: in cities, municipalities and administrative districts – and that is already happening.

Because: municipalities around the world are having to address the challenge of defining their contributions to national sustainability strategies, then implementing them and ultimately also monitoring them.

In order to be able to do that, they need the support of their governments at the national level.

International exchange and consultation are also enormously important for effective implementation of local sustainability strategies. And that is precisely where our programme for globally sustainable municipalities comes in.

It doesn’t only provide support for the development of local strategies and for networking municipalities around the world: 200 municipalities are already members of the Club of the 2030 Agenda Municipalities. By signing a model resolution they have made a commitment to implementing the SDGs.

The programme supports municipalities in drawing up voluntary local reviews (VLRs) to be submitted to the United Nations as well.

These VLRs serve to feed information about local experiences into the international dialogue and give cities worldwide a space for learning from one another. This way, their importance can be made more visible and local engagement can be recognised – by central governments and also by us, the international community.

Today we will hear from two examples of such Voluntary Local Reviews.

One from the City of Bonn:

In 2019, Bonn adopted a sustainability strategy which makes concrete reference to the 2030 Agenda.

The City is putting considerable effort into data-based reporting, in order to be able to track the realisation of the SDGs and improve it.

But this is also a question of being able to engage in dialogue with the national level – for example, regarding the importance of concrete investments in sustainable mobility.

And the second example is from the City of Pereira in Colombia:

Pereira has a large range of different habitats and ecosystems; a quarter of its total area is a national protected zone.

In order to protect this area, Pereira is not just relying on environmental instruments like green corridors and measures to combat trade in wild animals.

It has also set up strategic partnerships with local and international organisations to get support for activities like reporting on sustainability or for data collection.

Pereira also attaches high priority to implementing SDG 5 and is engaged in many different activities for gender equality – for example, with the Pereira story tellers, who encourage women and girls to tell their stories. Or with measures against violence and discrimination towards women.

Both these cities, Bonn and Pereira, are facing very unique challenges and are therefore focusing on different priorities and activities.

At this event today – and of course beyond it as well – we want to invite you to engage in an exchange about these different aspects.

I therefore invite you all – and in particular the national decision-makers – to take note of the local perspectives. Because we need these perspectives in order to be able to achieve the 17 SDGs.

And not only that: municipalities also depend on the support of their national governments in order to expand their scope for action – be that financial scope, staff capacities, more decision-making powers or some other aspect.

After all, municipalities worldwide are doing a great deal to drive forward an economically, environmentally and socially just transformation.

I am looking forward to this exchange and I have already lined up plenty of questions of my own, for example:

  • What can national governments do to foster the special strengths of municipalities more effectively?
  • How do municipalities differ in the way they do their reporting?
  • What ideas can Voluntary Local Reviews supply for national sustainability strategies and global mechanisms?

Thank you very much.