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Global Goals for cities network welcome phase two – “The SDGs story”

Edited on

08 October 2021
Read time: 3 minutes

On the last days of September our network of 19 cities gathered to welcome the next phase of our journey – the “visioning” phase. Our transnational meeting took place virtually and was hosted by partners from Trim-County Meath (IE), Klaipėda (LT) and Mouscron (BE). The two-day event was focusing on stakeholder engagement and awareness-raising.

The meeting sessions were dedicated to the knowing of why it is important to do visioning and to involve local stakeholders in the process. “The future is too important to be left to politics & experts alone” was one of the key messages from URBACT expert Christophe Gouache (Lead Expert for the Active Citizen Action Planning Network and supporting the visioning phase of our Global Goals for Cities network). Another important message was that visions should be describing a desirable future where present and upcoming challenges have been overcome – not just a Christmas wish list of things that the city would like to have. 

On the picture shown you can see a sneak peek into what the cities came up with during a simulation and learning exercise on Miro for creating future visions for a fictional city made up in teams of peers.

Special visit from Espoo
One other special visit was from our “Lighthouse City” Espoo (FI), introduced by Ville Taajamaa from the Mayor's Office, and Chief editor of Espoo’s Voluntary Local Review . He presented the experience Espoo City had with using “The Espoo Story“ as their guiding vision for the city, all the way through to developing a Voluntary Local Review of the city’s work on the SDGs. He highlighted that despite the relatively small size of the city and its workforce (around 300 000 inhabitants and 15 000 staff members) to implement changes – such as introducing the SDGs as a modus operandi in the organisation - is still rather complex. Ville also stressed the importance of having political support from the top, both from the Mayor and Vice Mayor. Ville also admitted sometimes struggling to find motivated citizens to engage with, and that getting people involved is hard. Today they are working with upper and lower secondary schools, developing courses on the SDGs.


The three musketeers of our network
Moving on to our lighthouses within the network, our motivational co-hosts of the meeting.

Klaipėda gave a session that was dedicated to best practices shared on youth actions, presented by Aistė Valadkienė. The presentation and inspiring videos highlighted Klaipeda’s youth policy context and how the European Youth Capital 2021 has contributed to strengthening the local policy landscape around youth engagement, including through 9 platforms set up around different topics and processes. The city’s experience of the UNLOCK SDGs Hackathon was also presented, which involved youth to develop solutions to the SDGs that were next selected by an expert jury. In the summer of 2021, the city had further organized a summer camp focusing on the SDGs, with over 300 participants from different municipalities.
Aistė explained that the hardest part has been that many young people don’t feel like they have the tools and a voice to engage in dialogue, so one key aspect has been trying to change attitudes. 

In the Mouscron session the city presented a TV-style news video, presenting - among other things -  the importance of making it visible to staff that everything they do already corresponds to many of the SDGs. Making the links between the work by the municipality and the SDGs visible is really a “win-win” scenario. It’s often believed that linking up with the2030 Agenda is something “additional” to the normal work of the organization, whereas the work of “Espace Environnement” - a local NGO from Mouscron featured in the TV news - is often to raise awareness of the fact that the SDGs are rather a new method or mindset, that can be integrated into the existing work done by municipalities.   

In the Trim session, the local team had also prepared a “news from the future” style video, focusing mainly on the climate actions that the Meath County Council have been undertaking, starting from their climate action strategy #MeathClimateMatters and educational videos on what people can do to contribute to change. The future TV also covered the 2019 declared climate emergency and the Climate Academy started in the same year for the councilors in the Meath County Council, the first of its kind in the country.
Next, the video moved to some inspiring examples of how Meath County has communicated and involved citizens in their climate action work, including raising the awareness through social media on various topics related to climate action.
One last thought-provoking future weather forecast from Trim was through the lens of potential future impacts of climate change in 2021. The local team had made a fictional tourism advertising with brown water rafting or castle scuba diving of “below water Trim”. This left a strong impression on all of the viewers.

Can’t emphasize enough how the SDGs can help to explain the transition needed in the present both exciting and challenging times. The SDGs help to make things visible and relevant.

To conclude

All in all, it was a great start to our cities’ co-hosting the network meetings. All the given examples and case studies were really inspiring and eye-opening of what we all can achieve if we keep up the consistency and pursuit to raise awareness of the SDGs. Visioning is like a lighthouse, which illuminates rather than limits, giving direction rather than giving destination.

In the next couple of months, partner cities will be busy co-creating their SDG Stories together with their multi-stakeholder groups. These stories will guide the work to be built step-by-step in the action planning journey ahead, where all partners will develop an Integrated Action Plan to effectively localise the SDGs in their cities.  


Global Goals for Cities is a strategic partnership for peer learning and planning of integrated actions to localise the UN Sustainable Development Goals in a systematic way in 19 European cities.

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