Sustainable Development

What are the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, held in September 2015, approved a plan of action aimed to set the world’s development onto a sustainable path. The so-called Agenda 2030 includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, covering a series of interconnected themes on critical global issues that were identified by the international community over a negotiation process of many years, especially since the Rio +20.

From Rio+20 to the SDGs, click here to remind the process that led to the adoption of the SDGs

The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals, and balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. For example, the SDGs address the challenges in global environmental management, as to protect the oceans and biodiversity, and establishes a fundamental link with areas as food security and the promotion of a “green economy”. Besides, it poses climate change and poverty eradication as an inextricable link. The commitment undertaken by UN Member States also pledges to leave no one behind and to work together with all relevant actors, including with regional governments.

At the subnational level, regional governments start to discuss the extension and application of this agenda in their territories and strategies to pursue its implementation. Taking into consideration the different circumstances and competences of regional governments worldwide, all regions in the world need to reflect upon and adopt the most appropriate actions, in terms of institutions, partnerships, financing, competences, accountability and others. In this scenario, nrg4SD  acts in two scenarios: (i) ensuring the recognition and engagement of regions in the continued international discussions, while at the same time (ii) providing a collaborative platform to support member regions play its part in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

This last year, nrg4SD has been actively participating in the global efforts to enhance regional visibility and recognition in the international decision-making on sustainable development. Moreover, it has also provided an opportunity for dialogue among members, exchanging ideas and identifying possible gaps and innovative solutions for the implementation of SDGs at the subnational level.

In early 2016, nrg4SD carried an assessment of the preparedness level of some member regions to begin the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals in their territories. Based on those results, nrg4SD contributed to the elaboration of a joint document, the Roadmap for Localizing the SDGs: implementation and monitoring at subnational level, in the context of the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments. The roadmap covers a number of important areas of action for local and regional governments in relation to the SDGs, including public awareness-raising, advocacy towards national governments, and implementation and monitoring.

Follow-up and Review

According to the 2030 Agenda outcome document, Governments hold the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of the SDGs, however in close collaboration  with  many of the relevant non-state actors at the subnational level. In this sense, the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)  will be held annually and have a central role in overseeing the follow-up and review of this process. The HLPF should have a thematic component to review specific areas and goals, and also allow voluntary national countries to present their progress reports. In other  ensure that the Agenda works as a guiding framework for Member states and that should also focus on the assessment of progress, achievements and challenges faced in the process of implementation of the goals.


In 2016, a list of SDGs indicators was agreed in the UN Statistical Commission to measure progress towards the 17 goals and 169 targets of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The proposed global indicator framework recognized that its development is still subject to improvement and that defining robust and high quality indicators is a process that will continue over time. This year 2017, the first UN World Data Forum brought together public and private measurements experts, statistical producers, information system specialists, and users as well as all other key stakeholders to discuss data for sustainable development. In this sense, this forum will be of great importance for the drafting and reshaping of the SDGs indicators, which will enable to gather more reliable data and statistics to enable governments to track their own progress and make local level decisions based upon the worldwide agreed data.

More information about the indicators process is available in the  UN Statistical Commission website.

Both local and subnational governments have a key importance in the implementation, monitoring and review of policies, strategies and plans worldwide, on a broad range of themes, from tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity to eradicating poverty and promoting gender equality. Exploring the substantial synergy cities and states/regions/provinces have, local and subnational networks are combining efforts to ensure their efficient participation in the 2030 Agenda.

Key dates 2016

  • 3rd March 2016, Cardiff, Wales – International Seminar on Green Growth. The event offered a platform for regional governments and businesses to come together and discuss on how to drive forward an innovative, productive, resource efficient, low carbon economy.
  • 27-29 March 2016, Bilbao, Spain – 8th European Conference on Local Sustainable Development. The event included discussions around the SDGs, the results of COP 21, the Urban Agenda for Europe and Habitat III with a special focus on the role of subnational governments in the achievement of sustainable development on the ground
  • March 2016, New York – UN Statistical Commission, where a list of SDGs indicators was agreed, but still subject to improvement, intended to review the progress at the global level.
  • 23-27 May 2016, Nairobi, Kenya – Second Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly – UNEA.  The nrg4SD UNEA 2 was held under the overarching theme, “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
  • 11-20 July 2016, New York – High Level Political Forum 2016. The nrg4SD played a crucial role at the 2016 meeting of the HLPF, focused on the theme “Ensuring that no one is left behind”. Further information can be found at the special section on HLPF
  • September 2016, UN Headquarters, New York – First anniversary of SDGs to be marked at General Assembly. Over 140 world leaders to gather in New York as UN marks first year anniversary of the SDGs.
  • 16-20 October 2016, Quito, Ecuador – UN Conference HABITAT III on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. More information here.

Future Events

  • 5-9 June 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York – United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • July 2017, New York – High Level Political Forum 2017. The meeting will be convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council and its theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world“.
  • 16 to 18 January 2017, Cape Town, South Africa – United Nations World Data Forum

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