Urban challenges are broadening in scope and require concerted policies and implementation strategies that extend beyond local boundaries. The need for metropolitan-level cooperation in order to achieve urban sustainable development goals (SDGs) is a key theme that has emerged from the activities of the SDSN Brazil network.

SDSN Brazil, together with the GIZ program “Sustainable Development of Metropolitan Regions”, is working with key stakeholders in the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area (RJMA) and other metropolitan regions throughout Brazil to develop local SDG implementation options. This initiative utilizes inclusive dialogue, metropolitan cooperation structures, and contextualized monitoring of the SDGs to explore solutions focusing primarily on SDG #11.

The goal of this cooperative effort is to drive action from “the local to the global” level, by providing practical experience in localizing the global SDGs. This includes aligning relevant monitoring and review frameworks to local structures, and sharing local processes and examples with other localities, as well as nationals governments.

The project specifically aims to:

  1. Support the prioritization and selection of adequate SDG indicators based on local needs;
  2. Identify alternative sources and methods of data and data collection; and
  3. Mobilize existing resources in statistical monitoring without overburdening local governments.

The objective of this initiative is to demonstrate how cities can “get started” with local SDG monitoring and to illustrate how data can trigger policy decisions and foster inter-municipal cooperation to achieve the SDGs. Thus far the initiative has helped to spark an important discussion in Brazil between different levels of government and thematic areas of sustainability. These discussions have explored current cooperation mechanisms for metropolitan governance (both formal and informal) as a fundamental base for SDG implementation, and the localization of SDG monitoring in urban regions. Topics discussed have included the institutionalization of SDG monitoring in existing metropolitan and municipal planning frameworks, the role of civil society in monitoring, and the use of data and existing indexes to monitor progress towards the SDGs.

Results of this Solutions Initiative will be published in a manual which is being developed in partnership with Casa Fluminense, a local Rio-based NGO. In this manual, the case of Brazil (with a focus on the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area) will be used as a practical example to illustrate how local SDG contextualization, data gathering, and monitoring can be systematized. The Solutions Initiative aims to serve as inspiration to other metropolitan regions throughout Latin America and the world by sharing practical lessons from the Brazilian context.2