German municipalities align their administrations with the Sustainable Development Goals

In order to contextualise pilot experiences of localizing in German municipalities, the UCLG learning team was invited to observe and comments the results of the project “Sustainable Communities of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW)” managed by the working group NRW LAG and Engagement Global took place on 23rd March in the municipality of Eschweiler.

Rudi Bertram, Mayor of Eschweiler stated, “From the window overlooking my municipality of 55,000 inhabitants, I see a large hole, a landscape that is totally transformed by carbon extraction. When reflecting on the global agenda, I see the challenge we face: we have a negative footprint in terms of conservation and climate change, but we provide energy to the close metropolitan and industrial areas. We have to protect labor opportunities, we have to develop services that help people to live better. But we are small and have a very active citizenship that is open and progressive and is aware of our global responsibility. So, even though the challenge is high, we can contribute. “   

The director of UCLG Learning, Sara Hoeflich, who participated in the mayors’ roundtable, welcomed the German municipalities to the global community and reminded that there are many cities and municipalities engaging with the global agenda by transforming villages, neighborhoods, cities or administrations with a view to a better, one world.  

Representing the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which has been funding the initiative, Doris Witteler Stiepelmann , head of the local authorities and federal states division at BMZ, highlighted the contribution of cities to the global agenda, emphasizing global responsibility and solidarity.

For its part, the German city of Muenster is an excellent pilot city to align the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the municipal agenda. In the city of approximately 300,000 inhabitants, in the heart of North Rhine Westphalia, sustainability is understood to reach far beyond environmental strategy. Their engagement has taken the following forms:

  • The council will decide on new operational goals for achieving more global responsibility: sustainable procurement, fair trade and transparent financing, review of communication and participation mechanism for more equality at home and broader partnerships with other cities.
  • Strategic alignment with the SDGs: the municipality is working to achieve sharing and living equality and create new housing models; learn from other cities; use natural resources efficiently; support decent work globally and in local enterprises; attain a mix of economic players and foster an environment for innovation; promote the share and change principle in neighborhoods; promote interculturalism  and citizenship in a global context, and  favor compacting or recycling land for urbanization.

The German Associations of Cities and Municipalities (DST and DSGB) continue to support and promote the localization of the SDGs. Besides being involved in projects such as this, 70 cities have signed a sustainability charter that expresses municipal commitment. 

Photo credits for mayors' round table: ©LAG21NRW / Theobald

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