Piloting Localizing the SDGs in Southern Africa and beyond!

Leaving no one behind - this overarching goal has special significance in South African cities. The challenge of African city planners and managers in the post-Apartheid context are gigantic: as they strive to make cities more sustainable and resilient, against the backdrop of social segregation, fragmented spatial patterns, unsustainable development trajectories, high unemployment and poverty levels. The SDG’s provide a beacon of hope and opportunity to strengthen the change in urban strategies and planning.

eThekwini Municipality hosted an exciting and innovative Train the Trainer Learning Event on the Localization of the SDG’s from the 7th to the 9th of March. The UCLG-Learning Team was on site with two facilitators and co-organized the workshop together with eThekwini Municipal Academy and UCLG Africa’s African Local Government Associations Academy (ALGA).

30 participants from African cities in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya and Morocco but also one attendee from Bueno Aires and Jakarta (UCLG ASPAC) worked along the localizing SDG modules. This diverse group of ongoing Trainers was completed by representatives from UN-DESA, UN-Habitat and UN-DP.

After a warm welcome by the head of the Municipal Institute of Learning, Dr. Mpilo Ngubane, by councilor Nonceba Molwele vice resident to REFELA (Network for Locally Elected Women of Africa), the Director of ALGA, Dr. Najat Zarrouk, and the director of learning UCLG Sara Hoeflich,  the program started with a field visit within the eThekwini Municipality.  The participants had the opportunity to get insights in the efforts of the Municipality to provide social housing for its citizens embedded into a larger multi-sectoral development project. Therefore a visit to an informal settlement and to the biggest development project for new social housing was undertaken. Enriched by this experience, the first day ended with the UCLG Role Game on Circular Economy.

On the second day, the program was centered on the Localizing SDG Learning Module and its application in training to associations and cities. An especial focus was laid on the alignment of plans with the SDGs, which is the heart of the second Learning Module. The interactive exercises revealed the challenges and opportunities of African cities to take up the opportunity to address the Global Agenda’s within the context of National Strategic Planning. eThekwini and Buenos Aires shared their experience in the localization of the SDGs. While eThekwini has the IDP (integrated development Programme) an organized framework where the SDG can be easily aligned to, Buenos Aires uses the SDGs to structure their consultation process. Furthermore, the importance of the New Urban Agenda in the African context has been highlighted. As the continent with the fastest urbanization dynamics and with the most youthful population, the New Urban Agenda combined with the  SDG’s play a pivotal role in defining a sustainable vision for African cities.

The morning of last was reserved for the monitoring and reporting of the localization of the SDG’s. This process is a crucial step in the implementation of the SDGs and often a major challenge for Local and Regional Governments. This topic is particularly interesting for all countries that recently reported or will report soon to the UN-High Level Political Forum (HLPF). Similar to the experiences in other regions, it was suggested to “Africanize” the chapters of the Learning Module.   Especially as the training of trainers sessions provide an important opportunity to understand each other’s challenges and for African cities to collaborate more closely in sharing experiences and resolving problems. 

The training session concluded with a follow up of the workshop and the outlining of a roadmap which defines the next steps within the network. Thereby our trainers who had just received their training on the Module 2 had the opportunity to directly plan the next steps in the localization process of the SDG’s. As a result of this inspiring 3 day event, we are proud of the African Local Government Associations Academy (ALGA) to welcome a new cohort of trainers who will soon start to train more people in their regions and thereby foster the global efforts to localize the SDGs in every municipality. 

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