Reaffirming SDG11 Support by the European Commission’s Regional and Urban Policy

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Between 12 and 14 July, a DG REGIO delegation was present at the United Nations headquarters on the occasion of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), whose theme was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. The HLPF is a yearly event for reporting and reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In 2023, Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) is under review. The delegation was composed of Wallis Vandebrock-Goelen, senior expert attached to the Deputy Director-General for implementation and international relations, and Laura Liger, Policy Officer in charge of the urban and territorial dimension of EU policies.

The participation of DG REGIO took place in the context of the EU SDG Voluntary Review presented on 19 July by a joint European Commission delegation — the first-ever supranational Voluntary Review.

The DG REGIO delegation highlighted the essential role of Cohesion Policy in fulfilling SDG 11, given its reinforced support to integrated urban development across the Union. For example, under the EU Cohesion Policy, over EUR 28.8 billion will support urban development investments in bolstering SDGs achievement via integrated and place-based strategies with enhanced ownership and the participation of local communities.

Building upon this, the DG REGIO delegation emphasised the importance of investments in terms of functional areas in order to ensure connection with surrounding areas, in line with a place-based, integrated approach and to face emerging drivers of disparities in the future such as those linked to globalization, digital trends, and energy challenges.

The role of the Urban Agenda for the EU was also put showcased, acting as a key driver for the achievement of SDG11 as a multi-level governance instrument.

The intervention likewise focused on the external action of the EU regarding SDG11: the EU and its Member States provide substantial support to sustainable and inclusive urban development in partner countries, in particular through the external dimension of the European Green Deal and European Fund for Sustainable Development+. Furthermore, the deployment of the Global Gateway at regional and national levels, through flagship projects notably for urban transport infrastructure will be a tangible contribution to SDG 11 and other interlinked SDGs. In the same way, it was raised that urban and territorial considerations across UN work and activities are more strongly taken up.

Altogether, the DG REGIO delegation conveyed the message that the EU is committed and remains mobilised to continue shaping and implementing policies and laws to mainstream SDG 11 as well as to dedicate financing for sustainable and integrated urban development to deliver on our common goals. This includes the strong support of the EU to the UN New Urban Agenda, crystallised by the six Voluntary Commitments.

Wallis Vandebrock-Goelen and Laura Liger from the DG REGIO delegation highlighted the following message reflecting on their participation to the HLPF:

Source: European Comission