By Santo D. Banerjee
NEW YORK (IDN) – As host city to the United Nations, New York is making the most of its position through its ambitious Global Vision, Urban Action (GVUA) platform that uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a common framework for building a better city for its people and their environment. This programme links multiple New York departments through shared sustainability objectives—and it has been selected as a good practice in a new UN DESA database of SDG actions, which could be scaled up or replicated around the world.
The GVUA platform, run by the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, provided a mechanism for New York to gather data across city agencies and use that to present the first-ever Voluntary Local Review (VLR) to delegates at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2018. Modelled after the Voluntary National Review (VNR) that countries are invited to submit to the HLPF every year, the VLR highlights New York’s sustainable development achievements since 2015, using the SDG framework to translate the city’s local actions to a global audience.
Another key component is that the platform provides the context for sharing best practices on SDG implementation with local and global partners. The Mayor’s office invites the diplomatic corps of New York to visit communities around the city’s five boroughs to witness first-hand the concrete action for the SDGs at the local level. For instance, UN delegates and other stakeholders have been invited to tour the country’s largest recycling facility to explore SDG 12, Sustainable Consumption and Production; take a ride on a sludge vessel to learn about SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation; and visit a community garden to delve into SDG 15, Life on Land.
On the flip side, the platform encourages city agencies to participate in UN events, bringing local voices to the table to infuse an on-the-ground perspective into policy discussions about the implementation of the SDGs.
Linking New York City’s local sustainability work to the SDGs requires both external partnerships and internal coordination with key city agencies. Because the SDGs are a common framework that all stakeholders can use to discuss shared challenges and solutions, the Mayor’s Office has formed extensive partnerships with Member States, local and regional governments, UN agencies and offices, city coalitions, civil society and academia. Internally, the GVUA plan helps the Mayor’s office educate city departments about the SDGs and coordinate ways to work together to achieve these global—and local—goals.
As the Global Voices platform gains momentum, New York is demonstrating what the SDGs can be — a common language for cities to exchange and develop strategies for a more just and sustainable world. New York calls on other cities to join it by adapting this platform to their own regions and needs.
What are the inspiring breakthroughs and success stories that illustrate SDG implementation? What are the good practices that can be replicated and scaled up? What are the gaps and constraints and how should we address them? Looking ahead, what steps should we take to accelerate progress? To help answer these and other questions, UN DESA gathered more than 600 good SDG practices in a searchable online database. [IDN-InDepthNews – 08 July 2019]
Photo credit: UN | Penny Abeywardena, NYC
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