Ahead of their participation at the UN High Level Political Forum on sustainable development in New York on 19 July, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen and the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, have addressed a joint letter to all members of the European Committee of the Regions inviting them to increase their efforts at local and regional level to implement the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Noting in the letter that the EC and the CoR "recognise, value and advocate for the crucial role played by local and regional authorities and their associations in promoting sustainable development, implementing the 2030 Agenda and contributing to the global development dialogue", the Commissioner and the President of the CoR also call on local and regional authorities in the EU and in partner countries “to unite efforts to achieve the goals at every level and ensure that local and regional authorities, in the EU and around the world, are actively involved as key actors in this process."
The OECD estimates that the active involvement of local and regional authorities is a key part of meeting at least 65% of the SDG targets and an increasing number of cities and regions in Europe are using the SDGs to support their overall strategy for growth and recovery.
The joint letter is the latest example of close cooperation between the Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships and the Committee of the Regions. On 30 November and 1 December 2023, they will jointly host the forum on “Cities and Regions for International Partnerships – Building Glocal Gateways". It will be an opportunity for members of the Committee of the Regions and local and regional authorities from outside the EU to deepen existing partnerships and start new ones to strengthen the implementation of the SDGs worldwide.
Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “As a long-time city councillor and local decision maker, I know that most of the decisions impacting everyday life of citizens everywhere are made in cities, municipalities and regions. To respond to the shared challenges, we need to go global – and local. Well-informed and future-proof decisions steer progress towards achieving the SDGs. Together with the Committee of Regions, we are reaching out to local decision makers to rally them behind the common cause of ensuring that our societies become more sustainable, and more resilient."
Vasco Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "The world as a whole, and cities and regions in particular, have to continue to put sustainable development at the top of the agenda. We are entering the final years of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic, growing inequalities and climate change as well as the impacts of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine have put cities and regions worldwide under pressure. Yet, we cannot fail to deliver on our common commitments: It is our duty towards future generations to enhance our efforts and deliver on the goals of the 2030 Agenda within and outside the EU. As a representative assembly of more than one million local and regional elected representatives, the European Committee of the Regions' members can share best practices and learn from other communities worldwide, through ever stronger global partnerships. Successful implementation of the SDGs targets like sustainable housing, better education or health policies can be best addressed on the local and regional level, by strong communities who are aware of their global impact."
The UN High-Level Political Forum is one of the main United Nations platforms for sustainable development. It brings together UN members, other multilateral actors and civil society. At this year's Forum, the EU is expected to present its first-ever EU Voluntary Review on progress towards the SDGs. The review will highlight the EU's strong commitment to the implementation of the SDGs and help build momentum ahead of the SGD Summit, which will take place on 18-19 September 2023 in New York.