As part of COP25 in Madrid last week, The Cities Programme in partnership with the UN Global Compact Local Network – Spain, CEiiA, UN-Habitat, RMIT Europe, Ecodes and the Observatorio la rabida de desarrollo sostenible y Cambio Climático para Iberoamerica presented a panel discussion on multi-stakeholder alliances for the effective localisation of the 2030 Agenda and Climate Agreements.

The panel offered a rich and interesting conversation between diverse actors about the importance of building alliances for the effective localisation and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in cities and territories. Moderated by the Cities Programme’s Head of Local Engagement, Javier Cortes, the conversation was focused on public-private partnerships, not as an end but as the means of strategic and systematic processes of long-term collaboration to identify, design and advance the Sustainable Development Goals and shared transformation roadmaps in each city and territory.

Mrs. Cristina Monge, a renowned political scientist, social commentator and Director of Public-Private Partnerships at ECODES stressed the importance of adequate communication on the challenges and opportunities of the SDGs to citizens so that the transition towards the models of sustainability is not perceived as a problem that will threaten jobs or the stability of people, but rather as a just transition that manages and avoids negatively impacting social and economic rights. She said that in order to achieve these goals, changes in both productive business and institutional models, as well as personal transformations in the habits of consumption, mobility, opinion and participation will be required, coupled with leadership that supports the co-creation of common and shared spaces and objectives.

Similarly, President of the Spanish Chapter of REDS (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) and former Minister of Health and Secretary of State of the Government of Spain, Ms. Leire Pajín, spoke of the importance of changing the current culture of public and private institutions towards radical collaboration. She suggested that impact of the SDGs can be scaled up by using evidence-based data and instruments for knowledge generation and management, in order to inform administrative tools and public and private procedures for the co-creation of shared missions.

Mr. Gualter Crisóstomo, Director of Corporate Governance of the CEiiA Innovation Center in Portugal, provided an overview of how the CEiiA Innovation Centre had used dialogue and co-creation process with different stakeholders such as civil society, business sector, institutions, academia and citizenship, to provide technical and innovative solutions to the policy of municipalities aimed at decarbonising and reducing the footprint of carbon of the cities. Specifically, the AYR program designed by CEiiA allows the measurement, valuation and transaction of the carbon footprint that a person uses, and rewards clean transport users through credits that are accumulated in an app that can be exchanged for goods and services in an effort to decarbonise the city.

Mr. Gareth Macnaughton, Senior Research & Innovation Associate Urban Futures at RMIT University described the social contract between citizens and the city as three-pointed equilibrium between the trust of citizens in institutions, the information available to them and their ability to respond by public and private actors to society’s challenges, in which an imbalance can cause this social contract to break. The role of academia therefore becomes an important player in providing access to evidence-based knowledge to the city’s citizens, as well as acting as a contributor to innovative solutions to be implemented by public and private actors. He went on to outline some examples of “micro-social interaction” solutions – innovative solutions based on the investigation of problematic social realities that can act as quick wins in more complex and longer-term processes of change.

CEO of Arpa Solutions and UN Global Compact board member member, Mrs. Clara Arpa, spoke of the importance of private sector partners addressing their own internal transformation of aligning their company with the Sustainable Development Goals, before tackling collaboration with other institutions, such as identifying their impacts in supply chains and business decision-making processes to mitigate negative impacts and support positive change, that can then act as a jumping off point to engaging in the co-creation of SDG plans for the territory/s in which it operates.

Mrs. Almudena Rodríguez, Director of Institutional and Corporate Relations of the Spanish Valora Company, reiterated that sustainable development must be a substantive part of business models with CEOs who are committed to an ethical vision for their industry. She explained the importance of regulatory frameworks to generate adequate market incentives to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals and climate agreements at all decision levels of the Business models.

Mr. Xosé Pedro Rodríguez, Mobility Councilor of the Municipal Chamber of Matosinhos, Portugal, spoke about how the rich environment of partners and allies in the city have enhanced their ability to tackle sustainable development challenges, and how making space for dialogue on policies with its citizens, civil society, large companies and SMEs, public institutions, the Authority of the Port of Matosinhos, academia and Innovation Centers such as CEiiA, were integral to co-creating solutions to public mobility policy and decarbonising the city. He described how this collaborative planning and implementation process had strengthened the municipality’s ability to respond to people’s challenges, collaborating with the private public ecosystem and creating shared benefits for the social, economic, institutional and environmental fabric of the territory.

Mr. José Luis Ruiz de Munain, CEO of Impact Investment Forum, and Member of the Global Steering Group of Impact Investment, presented on best-practice frameworks for responsible investment that incorporates impact into the classic variables of risk and return, allowing a more accurate measurement of the value of sustainable development investment through a long-term analysis. In this way, he argued that investment proposals derived from plans, policies or projects co-created by several actors that integrate innovation, technologies and data, and are embedded with the public participation of citizens, will generate a series of high impact guarantees in sustainable development that will result in long-term stability and low volatility, resulting in low risk and highly profitable investment projects.

Last but not least, Mr. Roy Chiti, Chief Technical Adviser of UN-Habitat, spoke about International Development Agenda and how the United Nations has created an architecture to stimulate multi-stakeholder collaboration for the localised implementation of the SDGs in cities and territories. He described how United Nations agencies are well placed to support cities by connecting processes and contributing to multilevel governance at the local, regional, national and global levels. He presented the UN-Habitat SDG Cities program that will be launched at World Urban Forum in February 2020, with the aim of consolidating data, identifying SDG actors and investment projects, and connecting cities with the necessary financial advice to achieve the SDGs at a the regional level.

Watch the full panel discussion (Espanol) through the Observatorio La Rabida COP25 event coverage here.

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