Taking a stand for the SDGs, the Cities Alliance Secretariat attended the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), at the United Nations in New York City on 9-18 July 2018.

Taking a stand for the SDGs, the Cities Alliance Secretariat attended the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), at the United Nations in New York City on 9-18 July 2018. The forum this year drew more than 100 ministers across UN Members States, and was also joined by mayors, business and civil society leaders and international organisations.

The forum convenes every year to monitor progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year, under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” it reviewed six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities. Forty-seven member states presented Voluntary National Reviews to share their progress on the different SDGs.

However, implementation of the 2030 Agenda does not happen exclusively at the national level. In an increasingly urban world, cities have an important role to play in eradicating poverty and fostering equitable prosperity for people and planet. Through its engagement at the HLPF2018, the Cities Alliance aimed to ensure that local and regional governments and local actors are engaged.

To spotlight some of the innovative ways local actors are accelerating the implementation of the global agendas, Cities Alliance issued a call for best practices that take an integrated approach to the Follow-up and Review (FuR) process.  Five best practices were selected, and we invited the top three – Monitoreo CDMX (Mexico City);  #weResilient (the Province of Potenza, Italy); and Red de Ciudades Cómo Vamos (Colombia) – to showcase their approaches in Cities Alliance Secretariat’s activities at the HLPF.


The Cities Alliance Secretariat co-organised and participated in several events. Please see below for the outcomes.

 Events co-organised by Cities Alliance

1. Realising the SDGs – urban knowledge, challenges and tools

Co-organised by new International Science Council, UK Research and Innovation, Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat, OECD, and Sustainable Development Solutions Network, this workshop convened a variety of stakeholders to discuss:

  --  National Urban policies – initiatives, programmes and policy relevant research, and

  --  Challenges and approaches towards implementing and localising the SDGs.


At the workshop, the top three best practices selected through the Cities Alliance “Call for Best Practices on Integrated follow-up and review approaches to urban sustainability beyond SDG11.” shared their experiences with contextualising the global agendas in their communities. You can listen to them here:

Monitoreo CDMX, Mexico City is an online tool collecting data on a set of indicators that allows Mexico City’s local administration to track progress on the 2030 Agenda and verify compliance with the SDGs. The project stood out for its innovative open data recording system which enables numerical, graphical and tabular queries about the data’s impact on the SDG indicators. Watch here

#weResilient, the Province of Potenza, Italy is a local governance and accountability model for territorial and community resilience. Around 100 municipalities in Potenza came together to develop a regional strategy for integrating disaster-risk reduction and climate change resilient policies in urban planning. Potenza’s data tracks progress on the implementation of global sustainability agendas, and its experiences have been recognised by the United Nations as a role model. They demonstrate a strong engagement of key stakeholders, social groups and citizens in the institutional policymaking regarding territorial and urban sustainable and resilient development. Watch here

Red de Ciudades Cómo Vamos, Colombia. Measuring Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals in Urban Contexts -  is a civil society-led initiative to create sub-national sets of indicators and to develop a public online data tool. Citizens will be able to learn, track and monitor progress on the SDGs in 19 Colombian urban agglomerations. The project demonstrates a particularly innovative partnership between civil society, university, private sector and different levels of government working together to collect and validate the data. Watch here


2. Secondary cities – Integrated localisation beyond SDG11

This official side event, hosted by the Cities Alliance through its Joint Work Programme on Cities in the Global Agendas, discussed how the different global sustainability agendas relate and connect to each other in the context of secondary cities. The technical focus of the event was based on the paper “Local and Regional Governments in the Follow-up and Review of Global Sustainability Agendas,” authored by adelphi, in collaboration with the African Centre for Cities (ACC), the German Development Institute (DIE) and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The event featured a panel consisting of UN system, academia, civil society and practitioners and devoted ample time to discussing the experience of our three best practices.


3. Strengthening rural-urban linkages for inclusive and resilient societies and healthy ecosystems

Co-organised by FAO, IFAD, UN-Habitat, ICLEI, the European Union, the Government of Colombia and Cities Alliance. This side event presented innovative examples of how strong rural-urban linkages can be used to leverage and accelerate progress on SDG targets, while engaging the small-scale producers and the rural poor as critical agents of change to ensure no one and no space is left behind. The session concluded on the note that, achieving stronger rural-urban linkages for inclusive societies is linked to creating capacity for planning and managing urbanisation at all levels of government with an approach based on function, not jurisdiction.


Cities Alliance participation in official HLPF sessions

1. HLPF Session: Perspectives of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked developing countries and Middle Income Countries.

Speaking at the session upon invitation from UNDESA, Cities Alliance’s Senior Policy Advisor Maruxa Cardama pointed out that while urban growth has a positive impact on economic development, urbanisation alone is insufficient for prosperity, inclusion and environmental protection. Harnessing its potential for LDCs, LLDCs and MICs requires introducing integrated, systemic, long-term approaches based on territorial functions and not on jurisdictions. Better understanding informal settlements and economies; as well as enabling policies that work for all citizens is an imperative to leave not one behind. Simultaneously, it is essential to support the capacities of local and regional governments and local leaders. Engaging local and regional governments in the SDGs Voluntary National Reviews is a step in this direction. Maruxa’s intervention concluded on the note, that it is time for a new era of policy coherence and coherence of efforts, with national and local governments working together for enhanced vertical integration between spheres of government and horizontal integration across departments, with strong community engagement and support.

2. Special event: Local and Regional Governments’ Forum.

Co-organised by UNDESA. UN-Habitat and the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments, the Local and Regional Governments Forum was a premier at HLPF 2018 for the constituency and its participation on the global stage. More than 240 local and regional government representatives, including 70 Mayors and Regional Presidents, participated. There were six panels addressing localisation of the SDGs and calling for the inclusion of local perspectives in the global assessment process. Upon invitation by the co-organisers, Cities Alliance Director William Cobbett moderated the session of the Forum which discussed the role of local governments in the SDGs Voluntary National Reviews.

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