Hot Topic - Fellows Highlight Cities Responding to the Sustainable Development Goals

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Jun 01, 2019
by Yasmina Ghandour
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Hot Topic - Fellows Highlight Cities Responding to the Sustainable Development Goals

Salzburg Global Fellows share their views during the Salzburg Global program Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals Photo from Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

A select number of Fellows at the Salzburg Global Seminar program, Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals, were asked: Which Cities Are Shaping National Responses to the Sustainable Development Goals and How Are They Achieving This? We have published their answers below.

"It is the city that can respond to the climate change and the environmental issues. I think the best city is Copenhagen [Denmark] because when I was in Copenhagen, I was in shock because they got most of the energy from wind power... a lot of citizens raised their own money to make renewable power... I think the most important thing is how their city gets energy because energy sources determine the characteristics of the city. There is a difference between the city who gets power from the core powers and the city, which gets power from renewable energy.”

Jin Su Park

Climate change consultant at Eco & Partners, in Seoul, the Republic of Korea

"The Japanese Government is also trying to achieve the SDGs, and one of the ways they’re doing this is by selecting several local governments that are making an effort to help achieve the SDGs and localizing them... some of the cities that were selected that are specifically leading the way are...  Shimokawa... Toyama... and... Kitakyushu. They’re all different sizes [and] have different backgrounds... Shimokawa is really well known for their forest management scheme.... Toyama is doing well in terms of creating an environmentally friendly public transportation system....  and Kitakyushu is also working hard in its environmental international cooperation, sharing their experiences of overcoming pollution...”

Masumi Kikkawa

Project manager at Ishi Planning & Design Co. in Tokyo, Japan

"I thought about Medellín [Colombia] because, of course, it is well known for all of its neighborhood development and public space development and improving quality of life through urban upgrading to decrease crime... but what people don’t really know is that many in the region in which it sits in Colombia, they have been working together at a larger scale. So, going behind and beyond the neighborhood, beyond the city... Colombia is one of the first countries that it’s like pioneering this level of development... This means many municipalities coming together to work on issues of agriculture, water conservation, migration, people moving from [and] between towns and cities. So, this opens like a whole new game in terms of who is [in] power, who makes the decisions, and dynamics between city and regional governments.”

Andrea Oyuela

Architect and urban planner from Honduras

"In the South African context, we have the metropolitan municipalities, which are the biggest urban areas, and they are shaping the national responses in a different way. So, each city will have its own focus area on what they want to do... So, with the community-based adaptation [in nature] we have the city of eThekwini, which is Durban... Then you’ve got the city of Johannesburg, which looks at transit orientated development
and bringing people closer to places of economic opportunities and social amenities... then around governments and institutional issues as well, you’ve got cities like Tshwane, which has a sustainability unit within the office of the city mayor...”

Liteboho Makhele

Program manager of sustainable cities at the South African Cities Network

"I can’t think of a single city that... fully understands to reach [the] sustainable development goals requires an incredible reduction in privilege. It’s not about bringing up a sort of standing of quality of life that the whole world can have. It’s actually about drastically and radically reducing the level of living in terms of consumption [and] in terms of production that the vast majority of cities are currently embroiled in.

Jacksón Smith

Co-founder and CTO of Learning Economy


The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals, is part of the Parks for the Planet Forum. This program is supported by Future Cities Forum, ICLEI CBC, IUCN Urban Alliance, Learning Economy, National Park City Foundation, The Centre for Conscious Design, World Urban Parks, and 21st Century Trust.