Since the adoption of the 2030 Development Agenda and the new (17) Sustainable Development Goals, and following the follow-up reports on the Millennium Development Goals, the international community as a whole has assumed that in order to reach the important global goals and Universal principles set out in Agenda 2030, it is essential to avoid the mistakes of the past, including the treatment given to the role of local governments.
On that occasion, local authorities were not treated as real actors in achieving the Objectives. They were treated rather as instruments of change, rather than as “agents of change” and essential players in development. Very few associations of local authorities and therefore very few local authorities were called to participate from the outset in the development of country strategies, with the foreseeable consequences, today contrasted, of lack of appropriation and alignment with needs and resources In the local sphere.
In view of the universal nature of the new Development Agenda 2030, policy makers at all levels of government must commit themselves to resolving this past error and to promote initiatives that incorporate the active participation of subnational governments as actors in the strategic designs for the implementation of SDG.
In this sense, and thanks to the work of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), one of the main lessons learned is that the SDG should be reached from a new approach of cooperation, institutional and intersectoral coordination in which it is dialogue and complementarity at the local, national and international level, as well as collaboration with the public, private and civil society sectors. The achievements of the Global Taskforce in relation to the recognition of local governments in both Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda become solid and stable bases for the construction of new strategies of action both from a sectoral and territorial perspective.
The role of local and regional governments and their associations in achieving the SDG is crucial, since it is at the local level that the equality approach can be preserved for the implementation of SDG at the national level, thus achieving the SDG depends to a large extent on the active participation of local governments, since all SDG include goals related to local and municipal competencies and responsibilities, mainly in the provision of basic services and in the promotion of endogenous, inclusive territorial development and sustainable.
For that it is important to define how we can do it; We need both committed and trained local governments and national governments to recognize and respect their role. Likewise, the closeness to the population and citizenship makes the local government the closest to the problems and becomes, therefore, a sensor of detection of needs, for that reason, its capacity for the sensitization and the citizen mobilization to through instruments of solidary participation, makes them the most qualified actor to promote the strategic alliance between civil society and governments to jointly achieve the goals of the SDG.
On the other hand, the relationship between decentralized cooperation and the implementation of SDG at this stage is more relevant than before. SDGs need to be treated as an opportunity to evolve towards real policy coherence for sustainable development. Local governments need to be stronger to take on the challenge of being leaders in their territories to implement these 17 Goals.
Reality also shows that this is not happening everywhere, so fostering horizontal cooperation between cities to improve capacity-building and exchange of experience must be strengthened by decentralized cooperation. It is necessary to place the location of SDG as a multi-level commitment from the institutional respect of each level of government at the center of the debate on the future Euro-Latin American cooperation strategy. Counting with the Ibero-American Area of Knowledge led by SEGIB and with the experience in decentralized cooperation of the European Network of Local and Regional Governments for Development (PLATFORMA).
The exchange of strategies that are being developed at the national level for the elaboration of “national plans for the implementation of SDGs” will help, from its successes and mistakes to improve the biregional strategy. Strategy in which local governments must occupy their space.
The end of poverty, gender equality, the construction of sustainable cities, respectful of climate change, inclusive, diverse, transparent in their management, safe and icons of coexistence in Peace, are the beacon that leads guiding the work of Thousands of mayors and mayors from both villages and large cities. In all of them, the desire to work for the well-being of its neighbors converges, so it is time to move from words to action and create a global alliance to achieve the goals of sustainable development throughout the planet.