The SDGs in the 2019-2024 municipal administrative agreements
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have appeared in the administrative agreements of the Flemish cities and municipalities for the 2019-2024 legislature. IDEA Consult found a reference to the SDGs in 39% (21 texts) in an analysis of 54 administrative agreements. In 4 out of 5 cases, it was still limited to just one text reference. Genk’s administrative agreement comes top with 4 references to the SDGs.
The reference to the SDGs takes different forms.
A number of cities and municipalities refer to their main responsibility as local governance in the area of sustainable development: “as a local government, we are a decisive player for stimulating local and bottom-up dynamics that are making the transition to a sustainable world possible” (Mortsel); or as Genk puts it: “These objectives will be local, or they will not be”.
SDGs as policy and assessment criteria.
SDGs are also achieved on a regular basis as policy and assessment criteria:
- different boards use the SDGs as a guide or as a stop for their policy plan (Berlaar, Bierbeek) or their environmental analysis (Halle);
- Sint-Niklaas makes a reference to the SDGs with icons for each of their 50 action plans;
- Zwijndrecht generally states that decisions will be assessed against the SDGs. Ternat goes one step further and announces that it is designing a sustainability test at the start of the legislature which each project will have to undergo.
These different approaches demonstrate the flexibility of working with the SDG criteria when preparing a strategic plan.
Integrated and specific
The SDGs take an integrated view of sustainability in line with the 3 Ps (people, profit, planet). The city of Halle also refers to this: “We take an integrated view of sustainability as defined in the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Other levels of government mainly refer to climate or North-South policy:
- SDGs as criteria for an ambitious climate plan (Zemst);
- Sustainable procurement policy (Bruges);
- North-South policy (Ypres, Tielt, Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Bruges);
- Circular economy and charter with Genk companies (Genk);
- Waste, nature and energy (Kalmthout)
Ghent is largely consistent by also announcing a reduction in pension investments in funds with fossil fuels.
In any case (Essen), reference is also made to monitoring progress in relation to the SDGs: “We want to translate the sustainable development goals into our municipal policy and also set up systems to measure this effectively and to monitor it and make adjustments where necessary.” Municipalities that set the same aim find a convenient instrument in the local SDG indicators which IDEA developed as instructed by the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG).