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From the Leipzig Charter to the SDGs: an integrated approach to sustainable development

On the 13th October 2017, the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) and the Urban Development Network (UDN) jointly organised the event “From the Leipzig Charter to the SDGs – integrated approach to sustainable urban development” which took place at the CEMR Conference Centre, Brussels.

The event aimed to identify and highlight the links between EU Cohesion Policy and the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and had the participation of Lea Scheurer from the European Urban Knowledge Network, Judit Torokne Rozsa, Head of Unit Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development of DG Regio, François Bertrand from the French Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Karlien Gorissen from the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities, and the moderation of Angelika Poth-Mögele, CEMR Executive Director.

The discussion was centred on four thematic areas:

Findings of the study “Ten years after the Leipzig Charter”

In the first part of the event, Lea Scheurer set the scene with a presentation of the study on “Ten years after the Leipzig Charter”, a survey among national ministry experts in 35 European countries, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the USA, developed by the European Urban Knowledge Network and commissioned by the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).

The findings of this study reveal that the adoption of the Leipzig Charter was crucial to include the concept of integrated approach in the political agenda, with a relevant impact in the governance dimension of urban policies, as well as on the funding structures and the approach to deprived neighbourhoods. It provides timeless principles and can still be considered a reference to present-day challenges. The study also highlights the global trends of decentralisation and diversity.

Click here to download the presentation.

EU Cohesion Policy and the 2030 Agenda

Judit Torokne Rozsa emphasized that Cohesion Policy is built on the same principles of the Global Agenda: sustainable development in its all dimensions of economy, environment, social and governance, which can be found in almost every operational programme.

As cohesion policy links all levels of government and all SDGs are universal and interdependent, cohesion policy is the main financial tool to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. A multi-stakeholder platform for the implementation of the SDGs will start its work in January 2018, bringing the different stakeholders together. As front runner in the implementation of the SDGs, EU actions will have a major impact and need to be ambitious to set the pace for achieving the goals. At the same time, the EU strategy shall not be limited is more broader that only the SDGs.

In the near future, a first statistical report on the implementation of the SDGs within the European Union will be published as well a reflection paper on the implementation process by the European Commission.

The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities

François Bertrand from the French Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, highlighted the role of the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) in supporting the delivery of the principles of the Leipzig Charter. Providing support to local authorities of all sizes in the development of integrated territorial strategies, it contributes to the efficiency of administrations and policies by providing a common and shared language for different stakeholders and different level of government.

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the RFSC also includes a specific framework to help local authorities in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. The possibility of comparing strategies using different sustainability frameworks is also provided and is contstitues an added value of the tool.

As a self assessment tool, it allows local authorities to determine their own pace and address their needs in an appropriate and flexible manner. The possibility of sharing practices online and providing visibility to strategies and projects intends to contribute to increase capacity in this field and foster dialogues between experts.

Localising the SDGs in Flanders – a pilot project, Karlien Gorissen

In the last part of the session, Karlien Gorisson presented a pilot project of the Flemish association on localising the SDGs. Local authorities are crucial actors for sustainable development as 65% of all SDGs cannot be achieved without the involvement of local authorities.

Within this pilot project VVSG works with 20 selected local authorities on three tracks, namely on an awareness raising campaign which includes and shares examples at the local level, on influencing policy making by linking local strategic plans with the Sustainable Development Goals and enhancing the integrated approach to the SDGs, and on political strategies by interacting with national policy parties, local party programmes and local political programmes.

Click here to download the presentation.