“If we want to work towards a sustainable future, we need to give cities, towns and regions the authority to act, the skills to implement and the voice to share their experience,” stated Congress President Leendert Verbeek, on 8 July 2021 at the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Addressing the participants in the session “Going local: How can we support local authorities in implementing the SDGs and how can we best build on voluntary local reviews”, he highlighted that over two thirds of the Sustainable Development targets require action at local or regional level to be implemented.
Congress President insisted on the need for national governments to implement the principle of subsidiarity by giving local and regional authorities the autonomy, the finances and the support to take action. “Towns and regions also need the skills and tools to localise the SDGs,” he said, underlining the role of national associations of local and regional authorities which can help through initiatives such as the portals developed in Germany and Italy for SDG monitoring at local level.
“National governments should give the subnational level a voice, in particular when developing strategies to implement the SDGs”, continued Congress President. “Voluntary local reviews can contribute to adapt national policies to the reality on the ground,” he added, referring to the example of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) which conducts a Voluntary Subnational Review and participates in Norway’s Voluntary National Review.
“This is what the Congress of the Council of Europe promotes by amplifying the voice of local and regional voices, making local initiatives for the SDGs visible and encouraging members to take action”, he concluded.