Thursday last week Global Utmaning organized its first national webinar for Belarusian and Georgian participants of the Sustainability Leadership Programme – Localizing SDGs in the Eastern Partnership Countries. It was an intense three-hour program with inspiring presentations, discussions, and most importantly, the first opportunity for the participants of the programme to meet each other.
The Sustainability Leadership Programme is a two-year capacity-building program focusing on developing skills, partnerships, and networks to support the local implementation of the SDGs in Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine. Last Thursday the first National Webinar was organized for participants from Belarus and Georgia, the overall aim of this webinar was to introduce the aim of the Programme and begin the peer-to-peer process by inviting speakers and participants to present their work.
The webinar began with a presentation from Joel Ahlgren and Krista Kampus about the aims and objectives of the leadership Programme and an introduction to the topics that will be covered in the upcoming activities of the programme.
Thomas Melin, a senior advisor at Global Utmaning, continued with a presentation to set the scene, explaining the historical background of the 2030 Agenda and why the local implementation of the SDGs is crucial to the implementation of the whole 2030 Agenda. He declared how today’s global challenges may differ from place to place, but highlighted that most of these challenges – e.g. climate change, segregation, urbanization – are manifested on local levels in the complexity that is today´s growing cities. We need global cooperation and greater capacity among sub-national levels to turn these global challenges into local opportunities, Thomas argued. He also described that a large part of the SDGs are related to local issues challenges, why they can only be implemented locally by the people who know the city.
Magnus P Wåhlin, chair of the sustainability council at Växjö municipality, continued with a presentation on how Växjö is working holistically to implement the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Växjö works with innovative methods and a holistic approach when implementing the SDGs in municipalities, and Magnus gave a brief history of how Växjö has worked actively on making sustainable development an integral part of the municipality, and how this ambition now is manifested in the strategy “Sustainable Växjö 2030”.
Magnus highlighted the need to put the sustainability work into the existing processes and management of the city and introduced some of Växjö´s success factors. The presentation provided an overview of how municipalities and cities can approach the SDGs and work with them in a holistic manner. A question that was discussed, and that will be explored in greater detail in future activities of the programme, was how much influence political fluctuation and different political party perspective play in the process of implementing the SDGs.
Next out was Krista Kampus, senior advisor at Global Utmaning but also working with strategic development at the city of Tallinn, proceeded by giving a background to the City of Tallinn and how they are working with strategic planning based on the SDGs as an inclusive process. Krista highlighted the importance of creating a feeling of shared values and responsibilities – the work on the SDGs has to be participatory.
Krista presented a new strategy called “ Tallinn 2035” and described how Tallinn uses a lot of digital tools for urban development. Including a digital cooperation tool called “opencity” for gathering feedback and ideas for spatial planning and new development for cities.
Vladimir Alwxandonet, director of the innovative technologies studio and one of the participants of the Programme continued by describing his work with an NGO established to perform culturally, education, and social activities. Vladimir described how they have just started a Programme called “Gomel learner: beginning, start, development” in the Gomel region of Belarus. They want to achieve sustainable development at a local level through civil society dialogue. Vladimir highlighted the importance of collective leadership and to build future partnerships between organizations.
As the last speaker, Elene Samukashvili, project assistant at Georgia environment outlook, and also a participant of the Programme, presented her work with an NGO working with environmental challenges in Georgia. Elene briefly presented how they are working with SDG goals, focusing specifically on SDG 6 and 13. Due to Georgia’s problems with waste management, they work to undertake these issues supporting wast management capacity development in Georgia as a means to support the local implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Throughout the webinar and during the presentations, questions were raised such as how cities can work with both sustainable development and improve the economy, how to get youth engagement, and convince your collages about the importance of agenda 2030.
The themes and topics that participants would like to explore in the leadership Programme were also discussed. For example, questions on gender equality, lifelong learning experience, and how we include IDPs and refugees. As well as how to develop sustainability in small towns and rural areas, and how to use the recourses of cultural institutions in promoting SDGs. The webinar ended with a presentation of upcoming activities, and with a presentation of the first task that the participants will engage in in-between activities.
In November a similar webinar will be organized for Ukrainian participants, and in December a joint webinar will be organized for all participants of the Programme. In 2021 the Programme will continue, depending on COVID-19, activities will either be digital or physical meetings will be organized in Kiev and Stockholm. More information about the program.
Joel Ahlgren, Project manager Global Utmaning
Sustainability Leadership Programme – Localizing SDGs in the Eastern Partnership Countries is funded by the Swedish Institute