Maruxa Cardama, nrg4SD
With the publication of the zero draft, many ingredients for the recipe of the much needed change of paradigm are now on in the kitchen. The question now is: will the international community get the dish right over the next months? Certainly the meal being prepared is not an ordinary one. Time is as limited as ever. And we are talking about the chance for world leaders to take realistic stock on the state of our societies and trace a courageous, realistic and results-oriented path to sustainable development (SD).
One of the key ingredients now finally in the kitchen is the substantial reference to ‘Local Authorities’ and the local dimension, by recognising the essential role of local governments and the need to fully integrate them into all levels of decision-making. It would not be difficult to agree on the fact that the scale and urgency of the SD challenge ahead of us requires action by all levels of government. Among them, Local Authorities, Cities, Federated States and Regions, which are often responsible for the development and implementation of SD legislation and policy; for economic strategies and fiscal mechanisms, and for encouraging green private investments. The closeness of these levels of government to citizens allows for capitalising on the increasing demand for action, so we can all move together towards a new development paradigm. Moreover, many are the Federated States, Regions and Cities from both developing and developed countries, which make SD happen on the ground, are also coming together in decentralised cooperation projects.
In The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development nrg4SD, we acknowledge and warmly welcome the local dimension of the zero draft. Still, we consider there is margin for improvement in order to achieve a true multi-level governance and leadership future, in the interest of a realistic, courageous and results-oriented path towards SD.
From the perspective of the so-called subnational governments – intermediate levels of government such as Federated States, Regions, Provinces, etc. - the wording of the zero draft fails to reflect the richness of multi-level governments below the national level. It also omits the fact that the complementarity and synergy between all sub-national governments has been key to achieving results over the years and will continue constituting a catalyser for grass-roots action. This is also due to the restrictive wording currently used for the name of the Major Group – i.e. ‘Local Authorities’. In this context, we call for the recognition of the multiplicity and richness of subnational governments, as well as for the need to further support their complementary and synergetic work.
None of the goals of a sustainable development multilateral agreement can be achieved without the contribution of all levels of government. The full potential of Federated States, Regions, Cities as ‘governmental stakeholders,’ must be recognised and also transposed into enhanced engagement and accreditation mechanisms within the UN.
In order to improve the achievement of SD on the ground, it is important to ensure the territorial dimension of any agreements reached by means of, among others, the establishment of sub-systems of governance and the access to adequate funding by all sub-national levels of government.
Last but not least, the importance of global Sustainable Development Goals should be reinforced with appropriate indicators and evaluated according to specific targets. These should be completed with a ‘roadmap’ for unfolding Sustainable Development Goals at all levels of government.