Cities are key to achieving sustainable development goals, states the new Bogota Declaration. The Declaration, to be presented at the Habitat III preparatory meeting in New York in September, is the main outcome document of the conference Rio+20 High-level Dialogue on Sustainable Cities, Transport and Tourism held on 10-12 August 2014 in Bogota, Colombia.
Convening over 500 experts and local government leaders, the conference tackled current environmental challenges and identified climate change as one of the main obstacle in achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) globally.
The first round of negotiations on drafting SDGs concluded in July 2014 in New York, USA with a total of 17 goals and 169 targets. A stand-alone goal on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable contains 7 thematic and 3 implementation targets, including a specific target on providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all. This first draft will be the basis of the next round of negotiations which will conclude at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.
"Transport is especially crucial in mitigating climate change", remarked Bogota's Mayor Gustavo Petro. Under Petro's helm, the city continues to enjoy the health, economic and social benefits of the 40-year old cycling path cyclovia and the 14 -year old public transport TransMilenio. At the heart of Petro's transport policies are the principles of sustainability, equality and humanity.
Zooming in on sustainable transport as one of the key components of a sustainable city, ICLEI Secretary General Van Begin said that transforming mobility in cities is possible with strong leadership, able infrastructure, support from like minded groups and increased public awareness of the importance of ecomobility.
Praising Bogota's positive transformation under Petro's leadership, Van Begin strongly elaborated on the importance of cities taking the lead and providing the much needed momentum for other cities and national governments to accelerate progress towards sustainable development.
"A sustainable city is one that is low-carbon, resilient, biodiverse, resource-efficient, healthy and happy, and with smart infrastructure and green economy", explained Van Begin. According to Van Begin, the SDG on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable is essential to mobilize all stakeholders, promote integrated, city-level approaches and advance sustainability globally.
The adoption of a specific stand-alone goal on cities and human settlements (UrbanSDG) in the new UN proposal is a result of a global advocacy of local government associations and their partners where ICLEI is actively involved in the leadership, in particular through Local Authorities Major Group, Global Task Force on Local and Regional Governments in the Post2015 Development Agenda, UrbanSDG Campaign, and Communitas Coalition for Sustainable Cities and Regions in the New UN Devlopment Agenda.
"The UN has been able to save us from the third world war but alone, it will not be able to save us from the most pressing challenge of our time - climate change. All actors, cities and national governments must work hand in hand on this", Van Begin said.