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By: Emily Hosek

On May 16, 2016, the GIZ/SDSN Brazil joint Solutions Initiative, “Sustainable Cities: Towards Local SDG Implementation in a Metropolitan Context,” held a workshop in Brasília exploring the adoption and implementation of the urban SDGs, in particular SDG 11, at the metropolitan scale in Brazil. In recent years, Brazil has seen an increased focus on metropolitan governance and planning, which is now understood as critical to the successful implementation of the SDGs.

The Solutions Initiative aims to support the inclusion of the New Urban Agenda at the metropolitan scale, both through cooperation mechanisms and a focus on location-specific indicators and monitoring. The workshop focused specifically on how metropolitan regions in Brazil plan to integrate the SDG agenda into their planning, and included nearly thirty participants from metropolitan regions throughout Brazil, NGOs, the national Ministry of Cities, UN-Habitat, and UNDP. The workshop was held in collaboration with a two-day national workshop on metropolitan governance organized by IPEA, Brazil’s National Institute of Applied Economic Research. It provided a unique opportunity to debate the inclusion of the SDGs in the metropolitan agenda, at a time when all metropolitan regions throughout Brazil are in the process of developing integrated metropolitan master plans, required by the Statute of the Metropole, a national law passed in 2015 which places a greater importance on integrated metropolitan planning.

The workshop deliberated the themes of institutionalization of the SDGs in metropolitan planning, engagement of civil society in SDG monitoring, and the use and adaptation of existing data sets and indices to monitor SDG progress in metropolitan regions. International, national, and local examples of best practices were presented, followed by a dynamic discussion between participants.

Participants discussed lessons learned from the integration of the Millennium Development Goals into the metropolitan agenda, and the need to aggregate the many existing indices and data to create a framework to monitor the SDGs in metropolitan regions in a way which promotes collaboration rather than competition, perhaps through the creation of a common platform. Ways to activate civil society’s role in the New Urban Agenda and monitoring of SDG progress were also discussed.

The Solutions Initiative will incorporate the results from the workshop into a manual which is being developed in partnership with Casa Fluminense, a local Brazilian NGO which promotes evidence-based decision-making at the metropolitan scale. The manual will accompany the process of localizing the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs in metropolitan regions in Brazil, and lessons learned from this process will be available to other metropolitan regions facing similar challenges.

It is clear that there are many challenges in implementing the SDGs on a metropolitan scale, but this integrated framework also provides a unique opportunity to promote enhanced collaboration and cooperation to implement the New Urban Agenda on a broader scale that reaches beyond city boundaries. SDSN Brazil will be used as a common space to continue dialogue on this important topic, and plans to bring results from the workshop into the international debate on the New Urban Agenda which will take place at the Habitat III Conference in October.