Coinciding with the SDG summit under the auspice of the UN General Assembly last month, The City of Leeuwarden was making its own commitments to further the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] at the local level.

The City of Leeuwarden became an innovating city with the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme in 2014 and has continued its efforts in sustainable development by officially becoming a Global Goals municipality. The announcement was made as part of the national Global Goals Flag day celebrations on 25 September, where over 50 municipalities from across the Netherlands joined Leeuwarden in simultaneously raising awareness for the SDGs.

The event was held at the University of Groningen / Campus Fryslân, who recently entered into a new partnership with the City of Leeuwarden to intensify their efforts on the SDGs called the ‘Living Labs’. The initiative aims to create social innovations that will improve liveability in economically poor neighbourhoods and monitor Leeuwarden’s progress on the SDGs.

The Living Lab is a unique feature of Campus Fryslân’s Global Responsibility & Leadership Programme (one of their many programmes with a focus on the SDGs) and will consist of the municipality working together with academic students to evaluate Leeuwarden’s SDG-related efforts and to develop innovations that will turn SDG commitments into concrete actions. As a part of their assignment, the students will be asked to advise the municipality on how it can improve its contribution to the SDGs.

As part of the celebration the mayor of Leeuwarden, Sybrand Buma spoke about the importance of the SDGs and the city’s continuing efforts, and recognised 6 local initiatives as ‘heroes of Leeuwarden’ for their contribution to a better and more sustainable world. These initiatives  included Wijkbedrijf Bilgaard, a local volunteer organisation that partners local residents with companies to create more liveable neighbourhoods and Grieneko, an organisation that assists people to implement sustainable energy solutions.

The City of Leeuwarden hopes that by honouring local heroes as part of an annual event, that it will build interest in SDG17 – Partnerships for the goals and stimulate businesses, societal organisations and education institutions to contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030.

The first pilot of Living Labs will run in 2020, with the first students commencing in February next year.