At the final online seminar addressing municipalities as part of preparations for the World Urban Forum, the Association of Polish Cities invited participants to talk about “IMPLEMENTING UN’s SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL”.
The seminar was held to introduce the concept of UN Global Sustainable Development Goals, and pinpoint methods of implementing them at the local level in urban conditions.
Sustainable Development Goals were defined by the United Nations Organisation in the document “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The paper points to 17 Sustainable Development Goals and related activities to be reached by UN member states. Goals shall be delivered beyond the governmental level – the academe, business circles, non-governmental organisations and regular citizens are to contribute as well. In what way? By segregating waste, collecting plastic bottle caps, saving water at home, collecting rainwater in gardens, following an active lifestyle (sports), energy saving (by switching off lights when leaving a room), and changing household heating practices (by switching from coal to ecological fuels).
Given their volume and complexity – not to mention the varied degree of implementation across the globe, or even in Europe – it is important for us to grasp the meaning of these Goals for Polish cities and towns, and development directions they may ultimately boost. By taking advantage of these Goals, especially in the face of the EU’s new financial perspective, Polish municipalities may gain an opportunity to better identify their needs and capacities. Examples of successful realisations in several Polish cities and towns presented at the seminar may become an inspiration.
Poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, climate change, sustainable development, peace and social justice – such are issues considered for sustainable development purposes. How is Dzierżoniów approaching the issue? Which activities should be considered impactful?
An analysis of urban activities of potential impact on aforesaid Goals was one of the work areas defined by the Local URBACT Group, the Group formed as part of the “Global Goals for Cities” partnership project. Multiple activities of the town and its residents were identified in the context of individual Sustainable Development Goal areas. They include, but are not limited to setting up a “Community Refrigerator” at the Social Welfare Centre; delivering school educational projects (classes boosting student talents and classes targeting students requiring learning assistance); organising a “Small Improvements Programme” (grants from the Dzierżoniów Urban Municipality budget awarded to local residents for purposes of funding household heating projects involving a switch from environmentally-unfriendly heating installations to more pro-ecological ones); installing active pedestrian crossings (fitted with supplementary lighting and an automatic lighting activation mechanism alerting drivers to pedestrians approaching crossings – enhancing pedestrian safety by making them more visible to drivers); planting trees in urban space; modernising parks; planting bedding and annual plants in green urban areas; organising care for homeless animals; organising large-volume waste collection; replacing urban street lighting with energy-saving installations; and introducing renewable energy sources.
The Sustainable Development Goal delivery campaign has been joined by Dzierżoniów’s educational facilities and municipal organisational units. Students have attended emergency response and first aid classes, planted lilacs on school grounds, been taught tolerance, prepared for eighth-grade final exams, celebrated International Earth Day, participated in an ecological competition, and been regularly preparing and eating healthy school lunches.
Deputy mayor of Rawicz Paweł Szybaj shared the story of the town (a Sustainable Development partner municipality) taking action to combat climate change and its impacts (Goal 13). Mr. Paweł Szybaj emphasised that the town has been successful in delivering a number of projects and endeavours by working in partnership with other Local Government Units and non-government organisations. Consequently, investment projects delivered by the local government of Rawicz have become a multifaceted model solution targeting sustainable development. Outcomes include i.a. reducing exhaust emissions and vehicular streams in urban traffic by connecting towns and villages in the county to a transfer hub in Rawicz, and introducing the bicycle as an integral public transportation component. The S5 Bicycle Highway will make use of the technical road infrastructure associated with National Road S5 to connect localities of Wielkopolska and Lower Silesian regions. The raingarden designed for Rawicz will resolve the problem of urbanised area flooding; works to improve the town’s climate situation will continue.
Płock municipal authorities have adopted Sustainable Development Goal delivery as one of their operational priorities. Deputy mayor of Płock Artur Zieliński shared the story of CIFAL, the first UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) International Centre for Local Actors to have been opened in Eastern Europe in 2004. CIFAL Centres are developed in collaboration with local authorities and institutions, private sector partners and other UN agencies. Each CIFAL Centre is a hub of building opportunities for development and knowledge exchange between local governments and central government agencies, as well as international organisations, the private sector and civic society representatives. Individual CIFAL Centres specialise in selected thematic activity areas defined by development needs and priorities of regions they operate in. CIFAL Płock follows the mission of offering innovative training courses on integrated sustainable development. Development has been defined as reaching ecological urbanisation in the context of ever-expanding local government responsibilities in the field of providing all citizens with equal access to such services as healthcare, drinking water supply, education, etc. The process has been designed to continuously improve the quality of life for all citizens on the basis of social and economic development, while respecting the local environment and community.
It is noteworthy that the series of seminars is delivered as part of the “Local Development” Programme implemented by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy within the framework of the 3rd edition of Norway and European Economic Area Grants.