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In September 2015, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) partnered with leading academic institutions through the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) to pilot technical processes for long-term strategies on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in three U.S. cities: New York, San José, and Baltimore. The SDGs provide a universal standard for achieving targets to end all forms of poverty, social equity, and environmental sustainability, all while ensuring no one is left behind. As they are applied in locations worldwide, the nuances of local circumstances and operating conditions for investment and policy have become apparent. Understanding these realities and mapping out contextually-relevant practical strategies accordingly to achieve the 17 SDGs has commonly become known as “localization.” As the USA-SCI pilot cities pioneered sub-national processes of SDG localization, they found that the SDGs have utility in guiding, providing more coherence, and promoting equity and inclusion in sustainability efforts. This paper synthesizes the lessons learned from these pilot cities as they built their SDG strategies (Part 1) and provides a set of guidance and examples that cities around the world can apply and adapt as they develop their own strategies (Part 2).