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First SDG Cities Conference zeroes in on the role of local governments

November 3, 2021As part of its partnership with UN-Habitat to support 1,000 cities in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and impacting the lives of over a billion people from developing, low and middle-income countries, Global CEO Alliance (GCEOA), a coalition dedicated to bringing the private sector together to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), organised a session for the 1st Edition of the UN-Habitat's SDG Cities Conference on Sunday, October 31st 2021.

The session titled Digital Transformation accelerating SDG impact in cities elaborated on the role of digital transformation in local governments in the areas of planning, monitoring and evaluation of policies and projects that have both direct and indirect impact on the SDGs. It also explored the importance of the SDGs in local planning and city development, drawing on the experience of experts and on the successes and challenges of adopting digital solutions in advancing SDGs.

Michelle Tan from GCEOA served as the moderator and opened the session. She introduced the first speaker, Dyfed Aubrey from UN-Habitat, who talked about the SDG cities, the importance of reaching the targets and the productive discussions that happened during the first and second days of the conference. (To know more about the SDG Cities Goals, please visit

The next panelist, Dr. Carley Pennink from IHS, discussed the importance of localising the SDGs, with city planning mainly driven by local context and issues. She stressed that although there are challenges and limitations in capacities, it is important to integrate data, information and smart people in strategic and spatial planning process to build more capacity and create the most impact.

Andy Deacon from the Global Covenant of Mayor then discussed the drivers, the pressures and the current state of SDG integration and sustainable urbanization in city development, following with Stacey Duncan from The Agency Broome County IDA / LDC, who spoke about the application of digital technologies in advancing economic development at the local level by giving use-case examples from her projects in New York State.

Katja Schaefer from UN Habitat tackled some of the available ESG/SDG Solutions for Cities and Lennart Fleck from UN-Habitat showcased a walkthrough of the Rapid Own Source Revenue Analysis (ROSRA) Tool, which helps local governments optimize their Own-Source Revenues (OSR) by strengthening the Municipal Finance foundations of local governments, enhancing creditworthiness and enabling local governments to leverage external resources to fund their development.

To conclude the session, Michelle Tan presented a short video showcasing digital tools being developed by GCEOA to support the goals of UN-Habitat and SDG Cities.

The 1st Edition of the UN Habitat Cities Global Conference aims to promote the local implementation of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda in cities by introducing frameworks, encouraging cities to develop their Voluntary Local Reviews, increasing awareness among cities of the SDG Cities programme, and reinforcing a global collaborative approach among city leaders, local stakeholders and civil society, national governments, city networks and the private sector.

Through their partnership, UN-Habitat and GCEOA hope to empower cities around the globe by leveraging data to identify best practices, tools, and resources and working towards establishing sustainable practices that put people and the planet at the core. Further, GCEOA will provide tools and online training courses for building capacity for cities in hopes of forming a community of city learners in order to build the core of sustainable urban management competencies of SDG Cities.