As the halfway point to 2030 nears, the importance of cities and local leaders to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has become clear. A global, city-led movement is going beyond the confines of SDG 11 to demonstrate leadership on all aspects of the SDGs, characterized by innovation, action, and progress on display, as local leaders adapt the framework to their own scale and context.
As mayors and city officials translate lofty aspirations of the goals into the practical aspects of governing, they are using the SDGs to assess gaps in services and outcomes, create new policy interventions, and integrate a sustainable development mindset into city operations and regular processes of decisionmaking.
This report builds on the experiences of the SDG Leadership Cities Network hosted by the Center for Sustainable Development at Brookings to take stock of the key role of city and local governments in driving local and global progress, and the effects of their SDG commitments on improving their operations, effectiveness, and impact.
Innovations by cities are tangibly demonstrating the interdependencies among the SDGs. The COVID-19 crisis and the urgency to build an equitable and sustainable recovery reinforced the need for advancing progress on multiple issues simultaneously. Analysis based on the SDGs has offered cities a vision for the form that a deliberate departure from "business as usual" may take, resulting in a transformation of public life.
At the center of this movement, city leadership is undergoing a mindset shift, going beyond reporting on targets and goals to building a shared local commitment that enables collaboration across sectors and jurisdictions. As a common language and set of shared ambitions, the SDGs can act as connective tissue that provide a basis for new forms of partnership and bring together various sources of leadership for joint action from the public and private sectors, involving a wide range of stakeholders important to the vibrancy of cities.