Press release

Local goes glocal for sustainability goals in NYC

18 July 2019

Mayors and local governments are leading efforts to ensure the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda can be met.

Mayors and local governments are leading efforts to ensure the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda can be met. But this cannot be done without a shift towards sustainable governance and cooperation between all levels of government. At the UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development, held in New York this week, local leaders shared concrete examples on how to localise these goals.

Jan Vapaavuori, mayor of Helsinki, who spoke at a special EU side event today (13h15 EST), said:

“The success of the SDGs becomes real at the local level, where implementation happens. As city leaders, we are committed to sustainability and are taking action. Helsinki is the first European city, and second globally after New York City, to commit to a Voluntary Local Review of the SDG’s to the UN, and encourages all European cities to follow. It is only through concrete steps like this that we will ensure a greener, more sustainable future for all.”

Cities are pioneering new ways to reinterpret this global agenda, bring it closer to citizens and assess progress at the local level. The SDGs offer a powerful framework to address future challenges, but it requires strong co-operation between all levels of government.

The Voluntary Local Review (VLR) is an idea gaining prominence among many cities, with Madrid and Bristol both set to follow Helsinki’s example. The Helsinki example successfully integrated results from 34 city agencies in 4 divisions, and has been instrumental in helping the city to develop an integrated vision for sustainability.

EUROCITIES recently launched a special task force to help cities across Europe access mutual learning, build capacity, and create commitment towards the localisation of the 2030 Agenda. Many of these best practices are also being gathered into a forthcoming report, which will identify gaps and next steps for successfully implementing the SDGs at local level.

Anna Lisa Boni, secretary general, EUROCITIES, said:

“Cities are the front line for success. We want to reconcile citizens with politics, and humans with the planet. It’s clear that 65% of the SDGs cannot be achieved without cities’ involvement. So we are using this opportunity to ask international leaders to work with us, to ensure a sustainable transition. Through city networks like EUROCITIES we can bolster the momentum of pioneer cities, share best practices, raise the voice of cities, and inspire other levels of government.”

Cities are also proving to be innovators, by, for example, creating new models of governance.

Jan van Zanen, mayor of Utrecht, said:

“Cities are bringing citizens closer to the local-global sustainability agenda. Utrecht works with local stakeholders, businesses, social entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and grassroot initiatives to raise awareness. Using the SDGs framework helps us to create healthy urban living for everyone.”

Many European cities are frontrunners in making the SDGs work locally. With more cities on board, and better coordination between all levels of government and actors, this blueprint can become reality.


Notes to Editors:

  1. EUROCITIES is the political platform for major European cities. We network the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and more than 40 partner cities that between them govern some 130 million citizens across 39 countries.
  2. Cities involved in EUROCITIES new SDGs task force are: Amiens Amsterdam Athens Barcelona Bergen Berlin Beylikduzu Bologna Bonn Braga Bristol Brussels Chemnitz Cologne Copenhagen Dortmund Dresden Espoo Florence Gdańsk Ghent Gijon Glasgow Gothenburg Guimarães Hamburg Helsinki Karlsruhe Kiel Leeds Leipzig Lille Metropole Liverpool Lodz London Madrid Malmö Mannheim Munich Münster Nacka Oostende Oslo Riga Strasbourg Stuttgart Tampere Terrassa Tilburg Toulouse Turku Utrecht Valladolid Vantaa Verona Vienna Warsaw


Media contact:

Alex Godson: +32 495 298 594 //


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer