It’s been three years since member states of the United Nations adopted sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).It is high time that each country started localizing these goals as per their context so as to achieve their envisaged objectives.The action on these global frameworks cannot be successful without bringing on board elected representstives and city functionaries.This paper provides possible steps for orienting local representatives towards aligning these goals in day to day city operations.TheseSDGsare universal in nature with local implications and intervention possibilitiesto ensure relevance, applicability and accountability in the planning, design and implementation of policies and programs.
There are 17 SDGs with 169 targets. They place the principles of ‘leave no one behind’, aiming to ensure the inclusion of marginalized, disempowered and excluded groups. This is about first reaching people that are, or are at risk of being, left behind in the development process.
Most SDGs have targets that are functions of local governments. Recognizing the rapid rate of urbanization, the then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon sent a clear message, “our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities” . In this context, Urban Local Bodies(ULBs) have a crucial role to play in achieving the SDGs. The roadmap for localizing the SDGs has been drawn up by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, UNDP and UN Habitat to support cities and regions to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. The five parts of the roadmap are: Awareness raising, Advocacy, Implementation, Monitoring and Where do we go from here.
In India, the 74th Constitutional Amendment, 1992, also known as Nagarpalika Act, was promulgated to enable the ULBs to perform effectively as vibrant democratic units of self-government. ULBs are expected to play an effective role in the planning and implementation of functions related to the 18 subjects enlisted in the Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution. Many SDGs are directly relevantwithin the purview of these subjects.
In India, ULBs, which are in the process of preparing the statutory master plan or urban mission-linked city development plans, have the opportunity to synchronize their plans with SDGs. Furthermore, each of the 18 functions of the ULBs as mandated under the 74th amendment, directly contributes to the fulfilment of India’s commitment to the SDGs. Resources from various centrally and state sponsored schemes can be leveraged and converged at the urban level. It is important to set urban/wards (zonal)/ward level targets with measurable indicators that will have vertical and horizontal linkages, convergence possibilities, resource mobilization potential and is actionable by the ULBs.
In this context, the focus of this paper is to highlight tangible action-points that cities and its decision makers can fulfil that will contribute to the achievement of the urban aspects of Agenda 2030, while being mindful of the inter-linkages therein. Pursuant to the background section, the second section of this paper describes the process of introducing SDGs to urban elected representatives and officials. This is followed by specific discussion on three SDGs most relevant to ULBs: The SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; SDG6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; and SDG11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This is followed by sections illuminating the linkages among SDGs, linkages between SDGs and urban missions as well as SDGs and City Livability Index. The final section suggests a way forward.

Introducing SDGs

Introduction of SDGs to urban elected representatives and officials should include information on concepts andperspectives about development and its linkages to the local context (Figure 1). This would require an understanding of principles of assigning development functions to ULBs and awareness about SDGs. Finally, this needs an orientation on the role of ward committees, zonal committees and ULBs in the implementation of SDGs.
The objective is to mobilise ULBs to set Ward, Zonal, and ULB specific targets, coordinate with government and non-government agencies, coordinate centrally and state sponsored schemes and ensure that services reach communities.

Figure 1: Introducing SDGs to Urban Local Bodies
Source: Adopted from SDGs and Gram Panchayats TOT Handbook, 2017 GOI and UNDP

The three SDGs which are most relevant to the day to day operations of Urban Local Bodies are:

SDG 1: End Poverty

The objective of SDG 1is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. A survey should be carried out to identify the poor, destitute and others who are critically vulnerable to shocks and disasters; and spaces and incidence of discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups. This should be followed bypro-poor urban planning, operational plan for care and protection of destitute and vulnerable groups with convergence of ULB funds and programmes. The plan should provide universal access to housing and homeless shelters, water and sanitation, jobs and employment, financial services, social protection such as community kitchens, help-lines, support to institutions like self-help groups, career counselling and skill training. It should be based on active and meaningful participation of all social groups to reduce vulnerability. Potential resources to achieve this goal could be from Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM), Atal Pension Yojana (APY), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)-Urban, Public Distribution System (PDS), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana (PMJJBY), Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)-Urban, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, other state and central schemes.

SDG 6: Ensure Sustainable Water and Sanitation

The objective of SDG 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. To achieve this goal, ULBs have to identify households without access to toilets and piped water, ensure proper use and maintenance of toilets and facilities for solid and liquid waste management. Hygiene education has to be promoted as part of this program. ULBs have to get open defecation free status with adequate faecal sludge and septage management. Moreover, ULBs have to establish local environmental safeguard measures, make efforts to maintain and rejuvenate water bodies, reduce urban flooding and efficiently manage storm water runoff. Potential resources to achieve this goal could befrom the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission, other relevant centrally and state sponsored programmes and schemes.

SDG 11: Make Cities Inclusive and Sustainable

SDG 11 focuses on makingcities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This would require mapping of access to affordable housing, basic infrastructure, public spaces for all, particularly slum dwellers. Also, there is a need to review types and causes of various past disasters and carry out analysis of urban policies and plans,identify and track potential areas for upgrading, redevelopment, green-field development and environmental sensitive development. ULBs should facilitate an analysis of existing status of infrastructure, projection of population and requirements; adopt inclusive urban planning practices, a sustainable mobility plan for transportation services with focus on walkability and non-motorised mode, climate – resilient planning, link public transport to land use with higher floor space index and density; develop avision and strategy for integrated planning, City Development Plan and an operational mechanism to implement it. Potential resources for this could be available from AMRUT, Smart City Program, Housing for All-Urban, and other central and state-sponsored schemes.

Inter-Linkages Amongst three SDGs

The three urban-oriented SDGs of 1, 6 and 11, have close linkages among themselves. Figure 2 presents linkages of the SDGs. Provision of services like water supply, sewerage and solid waste management under SDG 6 is linked to SDG 11 for ensuring access of adequate basic services and upgrading slums. Similarly, steps taken for affordable housing and inclusive planning under SDG 11 also helps to achieve objectives of SDG 1 on eradicating poverty. Ensuring access of basic services to vulnerable groups under SDG 1 is linked to universal and equitable access of drinking water and sanitation. Thus, each SDG should not be seen as an isolated goal but part of an integrated framework.

SDGs and Urban Missions

The overall objective of urban development in India is creation of sustainable and  inclusive urban development. To meet these objectives, the Government has launched five urban missions: Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities, Housing for All (Urban), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) and Swach Bharat Mission (urban). Figure 3 presents links between three urban-oriented SDGs and urban missions. The goal of NULM to reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor meets objectives of SDG 1 that deals with eradication of poverty. The SDG 6 objective of universal and equitable access of affordable drinking water and sanitation also aligns to objectives of AMRUT and Smart City missions to improve water supply, sanitation and other services. The mission of Housing for All (urban) focuses on providing affordable housing. Similarly, the objective of open defecation free cities under Swach Bharat Mission meets objectives of SGDs 1 and 6.

SDGs and City Liveability Index

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched the ‘City Liveability Index (CLI)’ for measuring the quality of life in over 110 major cities. The Index isa common minimum reference framework to enable the cities to know where they stand in terms of quality of life and the interventions required to improve the same. Cities are being assessed on a comprehensive set of 79 parameters to capture the extent and quality of infrastructure including availability of roads, education and health care, mobility, employment opportunities, emergency response, grievance redressal, pollution, availability of open and green spaces, cultural and entertainment opportunities etc. CLI can help to measure and track urban oriented SDGs. Some of the CLI indicators that will help to monitor urban oriented SDGs are:
• Percentage of urban households with coverage of direct drinking water supply connections;
• Percentage of urban households with access to toilets;
• Percentage of population covered under ward committee/area sabhas;
• Percentage of slums covered by formal housing;
• Level of air pollution in cities;
• Household level coverage of waste collection;
• Coverage of sewerage network and/or septage;
• Extent of reuse and recycling of waste water;
• Extent of municipal solid waste recovered through reuse;
• Per capita availability of green spaces;
• Geographical coverage of public transport; and
• Rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings.

Monitoring SDGs

Monitoring of progress in achieving SDGs is very important. Figure 4 presents the process of monitoring SDGs. This includes finalizing of set of sub-indicators; identifying data sources; identifying key or nodal agencies for providing data; setting baseline data; collecting data and finally reporting and disseminating the information. Such measurements should be carried out at the city, state and central levels. It is expected that this process will help cities and states to learn from experiences of each other.

Way Forward

India has played an important role in shaping the SDGs. As signatory to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is committed to participate in the international review of progress of SDGs on a regular basis. The central platform for international follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda is the High-Level Political Forum. In this forum, India is expected to present their Voluntary National Review on implementation of SDGs . The VNRs thus serve as a basis for international review of progress of SDGs. The next meeting of the Forum will take place in July 2018 and the theme will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will include: Goal 6 on sustainable water and sanitation for all and Goal 11 on making cities sustainable. The city Liveability Index launched by MoHUA for measuring the quality of life in over 110 major cities will provide a common minimum reference framework for these two goals in India.
Moreover, there is a need to raise awareness among urban elected representatives and officials about SDGs. UNDP and UN Habitat have taken the first step in preparing a framework on SDGs and ULBs in India. A training manual is under preparation. Both these documents will help in carrying out capacity building of all stakeholders in the urban sector.


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