Adopted at UN Sustainable Development Summit organized in September 2015 in New York, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a significant transformation on the global level. Sustainable Development Goals, which were built on three key challenges namely elimination of extreme poverty, combating with inequalities and injustice, and fighting against climate change, refer to the commitment made by UN member countries on the issue of tackling these difficulties, in its simplest term.

An intensive work has become necessary to be put in, for establishing the ways of implementing and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim at “leaving no one behind”; as the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals couldn’t meet the expectations, eliminate the inequality between regions and countries, and their accomplishments stayed quite limited on the issues of gender equality and environment. Therefore, monitoring indicators and levels were also defined when the goals were being determined, which brought about the adoption of “localization” as the primary approach for the implementation of the SDGs.

Municipalities, which are recognized as the main actors in the localization approach, currently conduct various activities towards the implementation of global agendas, although many of these works have not been conducted in direct reference to the global targets and agendas. Therefore,
UCLG-MEWA has developed the SDGs Mapping Project to be firstly launched in Turkey with the financial sponsorship and partnership of World Academy for Local Government and Democracy (WALD), with an aim to fill this important gap. The workshops to be organized within the framework of the Project seek to integrate the municipal activities into the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) that are periodically presented to the UN, and also aim to contribute to the awareness-raising efforts on the SDGs, by identifying the primary SDGs on which the municipal works are concentrated.

Next Stop Will Be Other Countries of the Region

Opening and Introductory Meeting of UCLG-MEWA Pilot Project for Mapping the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Turkey was held on 3 July 2018, at UCLG-MEWA General Secretariat in Istanbul, Turkey; gathering the members of UCLG-MEWA Presidency, Supervisory Board and the Committee on Local Governance. Speaking at the meeting, where the representatives of 22 pilot municipalities of the project were present, Mehmet Duman,
UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, noted that the experiences gained through the coordinating role that UCLG-MEWA played in the “Localization Program of the Millennium Development Goals in Turkey, through the Local Agenda 21 Governance Network” will shed light for this mapping project. Secretary General Duman also stated that UCLG-MEWA plans to disseminate the implementation of project throughout the MEWA region, building on the Turkish experience. Following his speech, M. Fuat Özharat, representative of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality;
M. Kemal Çokakoğlu, representative of Mersin Metropolitan Municipality; and Umut Eroğlu, representative of Nilüfer Municipality, addressed to the participants on behalf of the UCLG-MEWA President, UCLG-MEWA Co-President, and President of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Local Governance, respectively. They emphasized that this Project would significantly contribute to the sustainable development at regional level, since it would also be conducted in other countries in the MEWA region. Participants further underlined the importance of the SDGs with specific reference to their place in international agenda until 2030. Following the discussions on the general framework, case studies and the preparations for the implementation of the project, the meeting was concluded with the decision to hold the first mapping workshop in Mersin.

Over 100 Municipal Activities Matched with Related SDGs

Within the framework of the Project, the first workshop was held in Mersin,
UCLG-MEWA Co-President, with the participation of the representatives from many sectors including municipal staff, provincial representatives of the central government, non-governmental organizations, universities and other related institutions and organizations. Organized firstly in Mersin’s Mezitli district, the event brought together about 50 participants, including municipal staff, representatives of citizens’ assembly and civil society organizations. The workshop took place in Taş Mektep, a primary school dating back to the Republican Period and recently restored by the municipality. Speaking at the opening of session, Neşet Tarhan, Mayor of Mezitli, stated that this project would provide significant gains in identifying the global scale of the works carried out by the municipality in line with the vision of “Happy Mezitli,” and in framing municipal activities more intensely towards the implementation of the global agendas. Stating the improvements gained in social municipalism, Mayor Tarhan pointed out the close cooperation built between municipalities and non-governmental organizations. He also noted the importance of multi-stakeholder participation in such activities.

Following the opening session, UCLG-MEWA made an informative presentation on the issues that local governments need to know about the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, a reference document providing the road map for the cities towards the localization of SDGs, especially the SDG 11 on building sustainable cities and communities. In this regard, UCLG-MEWA gave information on the Turkish experience in the implementation of the MDGs, covering the period between the years of 2000-2015; data on the achievements of the goals; the principles pointed out by the localization, which is the main approach for SDGs; the UN-Habitat process, and
the New Urban Agenda, as the main output of this process.

After the discussions on the preparatory works conducted for the 2030 Agenda and the specific fields to achieve these targets, municipal staff and other related stakeholders evaluated the projects and activities carried out by the municipality in the last 5 years. Within this regard, more than 100 activities of Mezitli Municipality were evaluated on the basis of the raised level of awareness and consciousness on the SDGs, following the detailed presentations made in the first part of the project, and each activity was matched with the relevant SDGs. Participating in the closing and evaluation session of the event, Mayor Tarhan emphasized that the mapping project also contributed to the strengthening of communication and coordination among municipal staff, since they discussed the municipal activities together for two days.

“Every Work to do is a Step Towards the Global Goals”

The first workshop of the Project at metropolitan level was conducted in Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, UCLG-MEWA Co-President. Held at Mersin Metropolitan Municipality Social Facility, the workshop brought 100 representatives together including municipal staff, academics, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Burhanettin Kocamaz, Mayor of Mersin, noted that the decisions taken by the UN both in 2000 and 2015 provided a road map on how to create a happier, peaceful, safe and healthy world. Moreover, Mayor Kocamaz underlined the importance of the Project within the context of the activities of Mersin Metropolitan Municipality and UCLG-MEWA, as the Co-President of the organization. He also stated that the solutions to the global problems lie at activities at the local level. “Every work to be done in this direction with a common voice and participatory approach is a step towards achieving the global goals,” he added. Yasmina Lokmanoğlu, President of Mersin Citizens’ Assembly working closely with the municipality, also made a speech and pointed out the importance of the representation of each segment of society for the success of the global targets. She also noted that the synergy created during this event resulted in successful outcomes. Lokmanoğlu further stated that the workshop would provide an important roadmap for municipality to intensify its municipal works in their prioritized working areas. Addressing to the participants both in Mezitli Municipality and Mersin Metropolitan Municipality workshops, Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, stated that the matching of municipal works with the relevant SDGs provided the possibility of exploring the concentration of projects and activities in the same city, at two different level, metropolitan municipality and district municipality. He further noted that this project, to be disseminated throughout the MEWA region, would steer the wind of localization towards the achievement of sustainable development. Workshops ended with after presentation of pre-assessment tables shaped with the contributions of participants.

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