In September 2019, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action to deliver the promises of the SDGs by 2030. In many ways, achieving the SDGs is directly linked to the capacity of local and regional governments to ensure access to basic services that underpin the quality of life. A predominant finding in the research conducted is how the current pandemic has set back parts of the progress made on the 2030 Agenda and made the delivery of services more difficult. Moreover, COVID-19 has demonstrated the crucial role local and regional governments play, taking powerful decisions in exceptional circumstances.
As we move forward, strategic decisions need to be carefully designed to determine the way cities and regions continue to respond to the pandemic around the world and how they plan to reconstruct and improve their communities. To inform these decisions and to help guide international organizations’ support, this baseline has uncovered the important challenges and opportunities for the local implementation of the SDGs that relate to the broader themes of advocacy, action, and monitoring. In addition, this effort builds on the New Urban Agenda, which functions as an accelerator of the SDGs, being emphatic about making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
Thus, it raises awareness of the need for and importance of generating localized actions at the local level. Similarly, it aims to prepare all urban stakeholders on the global level to better understand and apply the propositions for the localization of the SDGs and generate synergies with other agendas, such as the Paris Agreement and the National Determined Contributions (NDCs).
First, local actors in several countries are finding it difficult to engage in stages at the national, regional, and global levels where priority setting, programming, and funding are discussed and decided. Second, there is the danger that the SDGs may not be achieved by 2030, and the current pandemic has caused regression concerning some of the goals. Third, systemic interactions between targets must be considered for effective policy design and implementation. Finally, one key issue is the lack of benchmarking of the 2030 Agenda implementation.