In a first-of-its-kind programme, ICLEI South Asia partnered with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to launch the KASpaces SDG Ambassador Programme for South Asian countries in 2022. The programme aims to help create capable and engaged political leaders, with the abilities needed to effect long-term change in their communities.
The negotiations at international events such as the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties on Climate Change and the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development have highlighted the inter-relationships between human development and the environmental, economic, social and political contexts in which it occurs. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) help to formulate the links between environmental sustainability, human development and economic growth. Their principles of universality, equity, inclusion and integration, and the imperative to ‘leave no one behind’ signals the kind of systemic, policy and institutional changes that are required.
However, the SDGs’ complex structure and number of targets can be daunting, and can lead to inadequate and misleading interventions. The elected representatives can play an important role here, in facilitating the implementation of the SDGs and proper provision of public services to ensure social welfare; promoting innovative governance models that guide and support economic, social and environmental sustainability; engaging actively to ensure uninterrupted support from all levels of government for health and human rights protection as well as environmental sustainability and resilience.
Ten elected representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka were selected, through an extensive process, to be part of the first cohort of KASpaces SDG Ambassadors, 2022. A survey of the SDG Ambassadors on incorporating sustainability components in urban planning revealed that the principal need was the preparation of city-level SDG action planning, which includes monitoring and evaluation plans. Six of the 10 Ambassadors also mentioned the establishment of separate cells and allocation of human resources, along with building the adaptive capacity of marginalised and vulnerable sections of society.