City Diplomacy to achieve the agenda 2030 in the MEWA region

On December 15th 2020 following the invitation of the UCLG-MEWA Committee on City Diplomacy and Local Governance, and responding to its interest on developing different spaces for exchange, networking and learning about the localization of the Sustainable Developments Goals, UCLG coordinated the session “SDGs as a Leverage for Advancing City Diplomacy and Decentralized Cooperation” under the framework of the Training Program on City Diplomacy and Local Governance.

The training program aimed to enhance the capacity of municipal professionals on city diplomacy, decentralized cooperation and local governance.

The session was built around the upcoming Learning Module 4 on Localizing SDGs, which will provide guidance for the decentralized cooperation considering the SDGs as a roadmap of learning and cooperating. The module aims to be a didactic guide proposing a new integrated approach of doing decentralized cooperation considering the SDG framework, principles, targets and goals, building on the realities of local governments, associations and organizations and considering their experiences, challenges and best practices.

The chapters, steps and the expected outcomes of the Module are identified using the analogy of a bicycle to conceptualise the transformative nature of decentralized cooperation while drawing comparisons with the bicycle’s different parts and the key elements of decentralized cooperation that must work in harmony to reach the SDGs to “get the global agenda in the move”.  

During the training, a consultation exercise helped to picture the main characteristics of the model of decentralized cooperation of the MEWA region and to link expectations and reality for the Module. Several keynotes provided key contents such as the introductory presentation on the importance of localization and reporting; by Edgardo Bilsky, UCLG Director of research; and the presentation by Boris Tonhauser, Platforma Executive Adviser, on the European perspective of decentralized cooperation and the inspiration of SDG to this agenda.

The UCLG Learning team gave a brief overview on the Module’s objective, logic and content followed by insights of chapter one on the main concept and evolution of decentralized cooperation, chapter two on the links, interconnections and complementarities between decentralized cooperation and the global development agendas, and chapter five on the relevance of SDG 17 and the multi-stakeholder territorial partnerships contribution to the SDGs.

Final remarks from Salim Korkmaz, General Coordinator of UCLG MEWA addressed the interest of MEWA’s membership in the tools and shared the learning priorities of the region. The MEWA region sees the SDG agenda as crucial for the region, so more cities and association will report and more capacity will be built up and connected.

To conclude, Sara Hoeflich, UCLG Learning Director, highlighted the ideas of how decentralized cooperation is embedded in the modern process of internationalization of cities and territories and how the 2030 Agenda results in an opportunity for local and regional governments to rethink, reengage and renew their decentralized cooperation model.  

The Module 4 on localizing the SDG is developed in partnership with UNDP UN Habitat and Platforma, and will be officially launched in the beginning of 2021 with the aim of starting the roll-out process with UCLG sections, consultation mechanisms, and partners.

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