February 26, 2016     cib    

Many Dutch local governments are struggling with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), despite their high motivation to contribute to them. This is one of the conclusions from the research into the meaning and implication of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Dutch local governments conducted by Kaleidos Research, in collaboration with VNG International.

The transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the SDGs has led to a global agenda that is clearly related to issues of local governance. As a result, the ‘Agenda 2030’ confronts Dutch local authorities with questions about their role and responsibilities in the implementation of these ‘global goals’.


Conclusions in short

The SDGs are relatively well-known amongst local governments in The Netherlands. There is an enthusiasm to contribute in a pragmatic, practical matter, but also a strong need for support, increased mandate and legitimacy. Furthermore, there seems to be a lot of potential to engage citizens on the, for them, most relevant level of governance.

Governance challenges related to the SDGs

Many local governments indicated that they face governance challenges when implementing these goals. These challenges include lack of political support, lack of clear mandate from the central (national) government and unclear division of roles and responsibilities. Secondly, the SDG framework and the UN process are perceived as abstract and complex, complicating matters further. Last, public communication and awareness are large bottlenecks since there is no centrally coordinated SDG communication.

Suggestions and practices for local implementation

The discussion paper presents several suggestions and practices for local implementation, including regional collaboration and multi-stakeholder action. Local governments can bring local groups, networks and organisations that work on international  and sustainability issues together to stimulate contribution to the SDGs. It might be helpful to include competition elements to stimulate local efforts that support SDGs. Furthermore, it is suggested to frame the governments’ contribution to the SDGs as an effort to help solve global challenges. This way, politicians might be interested to embrace the agenda and to explain the policy publicly.

For more information and suggestions for local implementation, please refer to the discussion paper of Kaleidos Research.