In support of the 2018 session of ECOSOC, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) convened an e-Discussion on the 2018 main ECOSOC theme from 26 March to 13 April 2018.
The discussions, entitled “From global to local: supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities”, focused on current and emerging challenges to building sustainable and resilient societies, and the actions that need to be taken by national and subnational institutions to translate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into reality. The e-Discussion was moderated by Ms. Marion Barthelemy, Director of the Office for Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development, UN DESA and Mr. Patrick Keuleers, Director of the Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster, UNDP, supported by their respective offices and the Development Impact Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.
The e-Discussion generated approximately 100 contributions and approximately 2,240 visitors from 154 countries. The Discussion engaged dozens of participants from civil society, local governments and their associations, the private sector, academia and the UN system. Many shared best practices and provided concrete suggestions for achieving the SDGs, especially at the local level.
The contributions reflect a wide range of perspectives from different actors and regions on how international, national and local actors can work together to translate global commitments into local action and build sustainable and resilient societies and communities.
Based on these inputs, the following main messages and recommendations emerged from the e-Discussion:
- To build sustainable and resilient societies it is best to consider the local level as a key site of delivery, but more importantly, as the reference point for any development action ensuring the full ownership of development agendas, their implementation and monitoring. For that to happen, a clear effort must be made to engage local governments in the implementation of the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda, and related international agreements.
- In particular, local and regional governments, in coordination with all levels of governance, are vital for promoting sustainable development and building resilient societies in their territories, while facilitating and encouraging the full and active engagement of their communities.
- Building sustainable and resilient societies at the local level requires the strengthening and deepening of local democracy and decentralization worldwide.
- Building knowledge and awareness holds the key to fostering sustainable and resilient societies.
- Sustainable and resilient societies are societies that are able to adapt, evolve and have the capacity to recover quickly from any adversity or risk.
- Integrating disaster risk reduction across UN system efforts in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can assist in providing practical and tangible ways to bridge the development and humanitarian communities.
- A greater emphasis on community involvement in needs assessment and in planning, execution and monitoring of SDG activities is necessary, as each individual and actor has a role to play in the achievement of the goals.
- Developing the capacities of stakeholders and actors in local governance, including civil society and local and sub-national governments, is essential to lead advocacy, resource mobilization, community sensitization as well as implementation and monitoring of plans and projects.
- To be able to ensure the follow-up of the global agendas, and particularly of the means of implementation, local governments need more disaggregated data on their local communities.
- Local and regional governments need to be transparent and accountable and must make themselves accessible to their citizens and respond to their needs and priorities, especially with regards to health, education, transport, environment and food security.
- Local governments require adequate financing mechanisms to build responsive and accountable institutions, and more broadly to drive SDG localization in their territories.
- New technologies, such as knowledge sharing platforms and Artificial Intelligence, can enable greater understanding and knowledge creation and sharing for sustainable development.
- To implement a people-centered approach to sustainability and resilience, it is necessary to have a strong commitment by national and local actors underpinned by relevant legal provisions, methodological tools and effective capacities in public institutions, civil society and communities.
A summary of the e-Discussion, including the recommendations for each discussion question can be found here.
The summary will also be made available through the ECOSOC website as background to the deliberations during the Council’s High-level Segment in July.