Africa, home to the fastest growing and most rapidly urbanising population on earth, is where this battle for global sustainability will be won. The world has a vital need to ensure that Africa urbanises sustainably, and avoids lock-in to unsustainable infrastructures, livelihoods, and behaviours. The current population is projected to double in size by 2050, with over 80% of this growth occurring in cities. Africa is also home to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and water-, energy- and food-insecurity, unequal levels of service provision, and an increasing infrastructure gap. These challenges, exacerbated by the global climate and biodiversity crises, increase the vulnerability of our continent’s population in the coming decades. However, Africa is a land of exceptional opportunity, and if we embrace urbanisation, cities will drive innovative solutions that will put the continent on a path towards transformative action for sustainable development.
Our ability to achieve the SDGs by 2030 will depend on the extent to which the global goals are matched with ambitious action at the local level. Local governments have a critical role to play in achieving each of the global goals, especially SDG 11 which is dedicated to building sustainable cities. Given their mandate for service delivery and many of the cross-cutting SDG themes, and given that they are the closest level of government to the communities whose lives the SDGs seek to transform, local governments are the key stakeholders in achieving the SDG principle: leaving no one behind.
Even though the need to transition to sustainability has gained significant traction and some progress has been made globally in recent years, few countries are on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Furthermore, despite growing recognition of the critical role of local governments in achieving the SDGs, there is insufficient uptake and support available to date. Much work has been done to localise the SDGs in the South African context and many key lessons have emerged as a result. Thus, through the Roadmap to RISE Africa in 2021, ICLEI Africa seeks to explore the SDG localisation landscape on the continent, and further add to these lessons and practices. Two SDG-dedicated virtual events have already draw out some key learnings from African cities that could be applied to inspire localisation of the SDGs across the African continent:
- Localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Lessons from South Africa, hosted in partnership with Urban LEDs, shared experiences from South African cities’ localisation efforts - see recording here
- Voices of African Cities in the Localisation of the SDGs, presented in partnership the South African National Research Foundation, shared experiences from Kisumu, Accra, Antananarivo and Kampala, and launched the Future Earth Regional Office for Southern Africa, which will provide further support to achieving the SDGs in Africa - see recording here
Further events through 2020 and 2021 will expand on these lessons. Five tips for localising the SDGs in cities and towns are to: