Nordic cooperation for Agenda 2030 implementation at the local level

Since 2018, Nordregio has been analysing and supporting the implementation of the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local and regional levels in the Nordic countries. As emphasized by the UN and OECD, at least 105 of the 169 SDG targets will not be reached without proper local engagement. Nordic countries have a long tradition of strong local governance. Still, challenges remain when it comes to certain SDGs; how to integrate Agenda 2030 in existing municipal budgets and areas of responsibility – and how to monitor progress.

In response to these challenges and potential for common learning and knowledge exchange across the Nordics, Nordregio, with funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers, organized several seminars and webinars for municipalities and regions. Topics and speakers have been selected in close dialogue with our partners in the Nordic Associations of Municipalities and Regions (SKR, KS, Samband, KL and Kuntaliitto), who also helped with outreach. See previous events and reports on our Agenda 2030 website:

During the winter of 2021/2022, Nordregio continued this knowledge exchange work with a new webinar series for officials and civil society that work actively with the SDGs at the local level – in steering and leadership, indicator development, or the shift towards sustainable public procurement. Speakers from Nordic municipalities shared their insights, methods and experiences working with the SDGs – followed by commentaries and Q&A sessions with the audience. See details below:

3 February 2022: Steering towards a sustainable future: How to integrate SDGs and navigate goal conflicts at the local level

Nordic Front-runners on SDGs usually have two things in common: enthusiastic political leadership and a steering process encompassing the goals. As one municipality put it, “the integration of the SDGs into the city’s strategy, financial and operational planning, and practical activities should be further promoted.” We will kick off this new series of Agenda 2030 webinars with a knowledge-sharing session on leadership, how to integrate the goals of Agenda 2030 into the local planning and budgeting tools, and how to turn goal conflicts into synergies for a more sustainable future.

16 February 2022: Reporting on SDGs: How to develop meaningful indicators and strengthen Nordic collaboration

Measuring the progress and impact of local Agenda 2030 efforts remains a challenge for many Nordic municipalities since indicators and data are not always available locally. Nevertheless, many municipalities have established meaningful, localised indicators that correspond with city strategies towards Agenda 2030. There is also growing momentum around Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). Hence, we invite you to this knowledge-sharing webinar, where experienced municipalities will offer best practices on developing and applying indicator sets. The challenges of developing comprehensive methodologies, working across departments, and coordinating with fellow Nordic municipalities to report on common targets is another area that will be addressed during the session.

2 March 2022: The missing multiplier: How to use public procurement for more sustainable Nordic municipalities?

For many years, the Nordic countries have been aware that while we enjoy high living standards, we also stand out in global rankings as over-consumers of natural resources. In order to reach Agenda 2030 targets, our production and consumption patterns must change, moving from linear approaches to circular flows. With several billion spent on public procurement each year across the Nordic region, procurement is a powerful tool to leverage sustainability at a large scale. A recent report from the Nordic Council of Ministers has highlighted public procurement as ‘the missing multiplier’. While identified as an individual target (SDG 12.7), public procurement can impact all SDGs and 82% of the targets. In this webinar, we will learn from some municipalities that changed their procurement processes – and discuss gains and pitfalls along the way towards increased circularity and local produce. 

Next steps 2022-2024

From 2022, Nordregio’s work on SDG implementation at local level will shift from project-based towards a more long-term engagement with municipalities, regions and their national Associations. The Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development under the Nordic Council of Ministers has decided to provide three years of funding for Nordregio to facilitate continuous knowledge exchange, peer-to-peer learning and match-making activities, online and physical. This time, also including national Agenda 2030 actors and statistics agencies. The overarching objective is to contribute to the ‘Nordic Vision’ of making the Nordic region the most sustainable in the world by 2030. For more info about upcoming events, see the link below.

Related links:

See previous events and reports on our Agenda 2030 website: