Translating Global Vision into Local Reality: Building the Right Knowledge and Policy Infrastructure to Support Local Sustainable Development

Jessica Espey, Aromar Revi | 2018


As the world’s population grows, so too do its cities. This accelerating urbanization brings to the surface simmering issues in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals–for example, ensuring the most vulnerable (such as slum dwellers) are not left behind, and reducing the overwhelming contribution of cities to carbon emissions (75 percent of global totals as of 2017) and adapting to climate change and an increasing incidence of disasters. These issues cannot be solved by a simple pen stroke from high-level policymakers and institutions. They must be tackled through bold approaches to policies and partnerships alike. This paper proposes three approaches; the building of knowledge around the interdependencies of the SDGs and a new urban science, the creation of science-policy partnerships to support evidence-based local planning, and the implementation of supportive national policy frameworks. It also considers the crucial role of the international community including the UN and G20. By utilizing such approaches, urbanization can become science-based, responsive, and impactful, increasing the likelihood of achieving the 1.5 Celsius climate target, and ensuring no one is left behind.