As a global framework, the SDGs present some challenges
A top-down approach may fail to address the political, historical and cultural contexts of local community-based initiatives and priorities. For example, in Canada, the SDGs cannot be achieved without also looking at Truth and Reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities.
2. It may be difficult to gather evidence about impacts that are aligned with local goals or priorities.
3. By focusing exclusively on outcomes, important process considerations can be overlooked.
4. Local actors may have to shift their programs to access funding aligned with the global agenda.
In 2015, Canada adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the UN General Assembly, along with 192 United Nation Member States. The 2030 agenda, and its 17 associated goals is a “global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.” Each goal is aligned with its own targets and indicators.
Localizing the SDGs
Despite these challenges, the SDGs could be productive framework for global and local collaboration, provided the SDGs are grounded in community realities. The Tamarak Institute’s Guide for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals in your Community offers the following suggestions when localizing the SDGs:
Raise awareness of the SDGs by engaging and building relationships with local communities
Identify meaningful indicators that resonate with the local community's needs and resources
Align existing local plans and programs with global goals
Consult on local priorities to develop a shared vision
Invite diverse voices to lead, offering support to communities and individuals to enable participation and ensure sustainability
The movement to localize is taking place in many communities across the globe. Many municipalities are also working to localize via voluntary local review. While work at the municipal level is essential, it is also important to engage community-based organizations, start-ups and other grassroots movements in conversations about the SDGs.
Community-based evaluation is one mechanism to spark conversations about the SDGs within and across organizations and sectors. Rather than starting with the 17 SDGs and related targets and indicators, a community-based evaluation approach to Canada’s 2030 Agenda asserts that organizations, start-ups, and grassroots initiatives start the conversations about SDGS with the work they are already doing on the ground.
Click the image to download links to an English and French version of the report.
2. Baskanderi, Aatif. (2019, Sept 19). TRC + SDG: Reconciling our Past to Enable a Sustainable Future in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/trc-sdg-reconciling-our-past-enable-sustainable-aatif-baskanderi?articleId=6580309328882880512
3. Richins, Alicia (2021). The SDGS: What are they good for? Webinar by Impact Ottawa Hub.
4. Schnurr, Laura. 10 - A Guide for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals in your Community. Tamarack Institute. Retrieved from https://www.tamarackcommunity.ca/library/ten-guide-sdgs-2021