Canadian municipalities explore challenges, opportunities of SDGsToronto, August 03, 2016 – International City Leaders (ICL) and Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) recently hosted a roundtable event to consider the finance and capacity opportunities and challenges of Canadian municipalities when faced with implementing the SDGs, specifically Goal 11; “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. The event, ‘Financing the Urban Sustainable Development Goals in Canadian Cities’ was held at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

To address this objective, there were three guest speakers representing the federal, municipal, and international levels of decision makers. Marco Kamiya, Coordinator, Urban Economy and Finance Branch, of UN-Habitat began by presenting what financing the SDGs looks like at a global scale. He stated that Canada is well positioned to accomplish the goals outlined by the SDGs and can act as role model for other countries and cities looking for guidance in achieving urban SDGs.

Global monitoring, local implementation

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, FCM President Emeritus, and UCLG Treasurer, followed Marco Kamiya’s address stating that while SDGs are presented and to an extent monitored at a global scale, the achievement of these goals will have to be addressed at a local level. Canada is currently in a “paradigm shift, which calls for collaboration between all orders of government, from municipal, regional, provincial, and federal”, said Mr Vrbanovic. With disconnection between levels of government, the SDGs will become difficult to achieve.

Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina-Fort York and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) stressed the importance of proper data collection and metrics, in order to efficiently and effectively guide the decision making process. “Evidence based decision making needs to become a reality,” he said. This type of process lends trust to the city, and allows them to ‘lean in’ so the local authority can act rationally on habitant’s behalf. Finally, participants agreed that cities play a key role in the achievement of not just urban SDGs, but of all SDGs, and though they are considered a global challenge, it is important to bring them back to the local scale in order to search for solutions.

This round-table event was the second event in a series of discussions. The first held in April 2016 that broadly discussed SDGs and the City Prosperity Initiative. There will be more discussions to follow and they will build up to the 2017 International Financial Summit, to be held in Toronto in 2017.