Achieving the local sustainability transition requires a strong impact ecosystem, with visibility, networking and partnerships.
We are facing major and decisive challenges in the 21st century: Climate change, biodiversity loss, rising social inequalities - to name just a few examples.
Rising temperatures, water scarcity and extreme weather events are already directly affecting the lives of many people. The loss of biodiversity threatens the ecological stability of our world. And rising social inequalities in access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities are putting social cohesion at risk.
In 2015, all countries came together at the UN to address these challenges. They adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: a global agenda to create a better world and tackle the key challenges of our time. We have have our vision and our plan. Now we must act.
Cities and local communities play a pivotal role in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. Sustainability must start at the local level because it is here, in the heart of our communities, that the environmental and social challenges become tangible.
"Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities."
— Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nation
Localising the Sustainable Development Goals in cities has become a priority for the United Nations. Research by the OECD has shown that a majority of the goals can only be achieved through "the full engagement and participation of regions and cities".
Thousands of municipalities around the world have recognised this responsibility and are developing plans and strategies to set the sustainability transition into motion locally.
Plans and strategies form the basis for local sustainability transition, but ultimately it is the implementation that matters.
The successful implementation of the sustainability transformation requires a multitude of stakeholders that mainstream sustainability into society at large and that develop new and innovative approaches to solving the challenges of our time. These include, for example, non-profit organisations, associations, businesses, startups, research institutions and citizens' initiatives.
The city needs to engage and support these stakeholders - this impact ecosystem - for the sustainability transition to be successful. This requires visibility of stakeholders and their best practices, networking and knowledge sharing among them, and collaboration and cross-sectoral partnerships.
Cities have a unique opportunity to nurture and steward their impact ecosystem. They can increase visibility of the ecosystem, raise awareness for sustainability, design policies and interventions to address gaps, and support collaboration and networking.
Most cities, however, lack an overview of their local impact ecosystem. Stakeholder mapping is a very time-consuming endeavour and for most cities it is not possible to conduct such an assessment and evaluation of stakeholders on a regular and comprehensive basis.
This is where we come in, supporting cities and municipalities with the data and tools they need to understand and strengthen their impact ecosystem. We analyse which local actors exist, what they do and how they contribute to sustainability.
This is how we'll make the Decade of Action a success together.