The Brookings Institution has published a brief with advice for cities on aligning their strategies with the SDGs. The brief reviews the process through which New York City, in the US, developed the first Voluntary Local Review (VLR), and recommends embracing a common language to measure and amplify progress.
Authored by Alexandra Hiniker, who is now the Executive Fellow for Sustainability Initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University, the brief titled, ‘How to align city strategies with the SDGs,’ identifies the steps followed by New York City public servants to map the 17 Global Goals and their 169 targets to the City’s activities, develop SDG programming, and increase internal cooperation as well as policy exchanges with partners around the world.
Hiniker suggests the first step is “crosswalking,” which is a process of compiling and unifying data under one rubric. For SDG implementation, cross-walking involves reviewing existing strategies and mapping them to the SDGs.
A second step for NYC involved the reorganization of its 2018 ‘OneNYC city progress report’ along the lines of the SDG framework. This report became the VLR for New York City, which was presented at a side event during the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
A third step is to incorporate the VLR into subsequent strategies for the municipality and to identify gaps through an iterative process.
Finally, Hiniker identifies the need to build a shared language with municipal agencies about the SDGs and City objectives, and to consider ways to share experiences globally. The brief also suggests resources that any locality can use to find value in the SDGs.
The brief is part of the Brookings Institution’s ‘City Playbook for Advancing the SDGs’ series, which provides how-to briefs and case studies on advancing sustainable development and social progress locally. The briefs focus on four themes: Governance and Partnerships; Data and Measuring Progress; SDG Priorities; and Budgeting and Finance. The briefs draw on the experiences of cities participating in Brookings’ SDG Leadership Cities community of practice.