Agenda 2030


Deliberation on Sustainable Development Goals


icon-20140705Deliberation on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda are taking shape and the negotiations on scope and financing of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are becoming more concrete and contentious at the same time. Sustainability has been a concern for several decades and has gained greater importance in light of increasing climate warming and continued instabilities of the social and economic sectors at global levels. Two separate UN processes are underway to determine the SDG framework namely the HLPF (High Level Political Forum) and the OWG (Open Working Group) both working on defining and negotiating the world's Sustainable Development Goals. In addition,various stakeholder groups (NGOs, Business, Civil Society, Academic Institutions) and International Organisations have started their own discussions on what issues and priorities should be core features of the coming SDGs.

To be able to agree on a single integrated framework is critical to ensure successful progress towards the definition and implementation of the SDGs. Concrete goals need to be set at national, regional and global levels and concrete financial resources need to be committed for SDG implementation. The issues and themes that will have been identified as being top priorities will set the stage for policy choices concerning sustainable development goals and determine the world's progress.

CSEND, a think tank focusing on the development nexus of trade, poverty, employment and social equity, is contributing to these deliberation through its engagement in both the global, national and regional levels.






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





Raymond Saner, CSEND, Geneva, 2021

In addition to the inclusion of Voluntary National Reviews as part of the High-Level Political Forum’s (HLPF) review process, cities, region or provinces are now also partaking in this voluntary review process during the annual HLPF meetings in July at the UN headquarters. These subnational administrative units report on their own implementation and monitoring of the progress of the SDGs in the format of Voluntary Local Review (VLR). These VLR reports are available at the UN DESA SDG Knowledge Platforms.

Raymond Saner & Lichia Yiu, CSEND, Geneva

The role of governance and innovation policy can help cities and countries achieve the goal of creating smart cities and sustainable human development. In view of challenges that countries and citizens face when attempting to create sustainable smart cities, it is of paramount importance to take into consideration how the 2030 agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals can help support the creation of sustainable smart cities. One of the ways to help countries and cities achieve sustainable development is the ability to measure whether sustainability has been achieved and if not, what can be undertaken to re-align policy and implementation with the 2030 agenda. This CSEND statement relies on information provided by the voluntary local reviews presented at the 2019 High Level Political Forum. In total there were 22 VLRs presented: 2 from North America, 6 from Asia and the Pacific, 8 from Europe, 6 from GRULAC. The cities in the UNECE region are New York City, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Bristol, and Mannheim. Each of these cities produced an extensive voluntary local review that detailed the SDGs they chose to focus on, the ways in which they met SDG indicators, evidence of progress in the goal areas and explanations of future plans.

Raymond Saner & Lichia Yiu, CSEND, Geneva

Current literature from ‘United for Smart Sustainable Cities’ details key performance indicators that can be utilized by cities to track their progress based on SDG indicators. This can be extremely helpful for cities who have trouble collecting or displaying data. In many of the VLRs reviewed, cities used varying types of data when displaying data and methods of collecting the data. This lack of consistency when discussing progress can cause problems when comparing the progress made by cities and when determining the most successful methods of achieving sustainability.

Some cities and states supplemented or substituted SDG indicators with their own (a disclaimer that is above each individual matrix). The aim of the matrixes below is to contribute to the discussion surrounding cities and their mention of SDG indicators. Specifically, the question arises whether or not a city needs to use SDG indicators to achieve sustainability and resiliency. This article offers a matrix which lists the goals mentioned by each city or state in their voluntary local reviews and shows which indicators were specifically mentioned in VLRs as well as the language used in VLRs to describe progress on an indicator.

One of (UNOSD’s (United Nations Office for Sustainable Development) flagship activities is the annual Executive Training Course for Policymakers on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Executive Training Course for Policymakers on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is intended to provide policymakers in central and subnational governments with the knowledge, skills and tools for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at all levels of society.

The Executive Training Course (ETC) has as its general objective to build the knowledge, skills, mindsets, and general capacities of Member States for implementing sustainable development planning, policy making and policy shaping through an integrated approach. This year, the Executive Training Course for Policymakers on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will focus on the SDG 3 on good health and well-being, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production, SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and SDG 17 on partnerships in the context of the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and will seek to identify potential solutions to support a swift recovery from the pandemic and accelerate the delivery of the SDGs in this Decade of Action.

“Intergenerational Dialogue” organized by Greycells and its partners with the support of the City of Geneva and the Foundation for Geneva on 7th July 2021 at the University of Geneva. The topic of the 2021 conference was “People, PLanet & Prosperity”. Raymond Saner’s presentation was “Prosperity and Economic Inequalities”


Raymond Saner’s presentation was “Prosperity and Economic Inequalities”

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