According to the OECD, metropolitan areas are defined as a population between 500 000 and 1.5 million people. For instance, the region of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has several such metropolitan areas which are often agglomerations of different separate cities and towns which became integrated into a larger size urban areas. These separate areas often retain some form of autonomy making it very challenging for the larger metropolitan agglomeration to coordinate sustainable growth of its infrastructure, personal mobility, safeguarding food security, managing waste and social development such as education, health, security and housing rules and regulations. This side-event focuses on the implementation of SDG 11 at a metropolitan scale which goes beyond the traditional VLR (Voluntary Local Review) reporting and introduces instead a VMR (Voluntary Metropolitan Review).


Concept Note


This concept note explains the urgent need to address the specific challenges of SDG implementation of metropolitan areas and to complement the VNR and VLR with a VMR (Voluntary Metropolitan Review.


Case examples of metropolitan urban areas and their implementation of the SDGs


CSEND organised a side-event during the UNECE SDG Forum 2023. Representatives from Barcelona, Geneva and Strasbourg gave overviews of SDG implementation of their metropolitan area and invited the audience to brainstorm how they might have solved some of the challenges of SDG implementation.



Contributing to achieving SDG 11 of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda by imagining the way forward for metropolitan areas characterized by the co-existence of different territorial areas with their own political mandate and institutions.

The 2030 Agenda addresses the future of cities and human settlement. Specifically, SDG 11: Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This event addressed the following target:

SDG 11.a: Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning.

This side event sought to inform the audience about the success and challenges in implementing the SDGs of three cities – Barcelona, Geneva, and Strasbourg.



Dr. Raymond Saner, Director CSEND, Geneva & Titular Professor em, University of Basel

Bàrbara Pons-Giner, Architect, PhD in Urban Planning, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda

Barcelona City Council & Ramon Canal Oliveras, Director, Technical Cabinet, 2030 Agenda
Panos Mantziaras, Director Braillard Foundation for Architecture, Geneva

Yves Zimmerman, Project Director, City and Eurométropole, Strasbourg