The United Nations 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will have major economic and political ramifications in the years to come.
SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities (Make cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) specifically focuses on all human settlements. All stakeholders - governments, regions, cities, private organisations - will need to contribute to the realisation of this goal.
Implementing the SDGs is not just a mere recommendation, in many countries, legislation is making it a legal requirement, particularly around climate change and keeping within the recommendations of the Paris Agreement. More than 190 countries will be gathering at the UK hosted COP 26 in November 2021, and many will hopefully commit to much tougher targets of emissions reduction. Cities account for more than 60% of global energy consumption. To achieve CO2 reduction objectives, new regulations will be passed, and those legal requirements will drive the cities’ strategies, day-to-day organisation and investment priorities.
Public opinion and expectations are key drivers for political decision. Since 2010, in industrialised countries, the share of the population that considers dealing with climate change as a political priority has increased drastically and this trend has been reinforced since the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowadays, a large share of the population across most nations support policies that will protect their community against the effects of climate change.
New technologies will also impact have an impact on cities. The smart city concept was launched more than 15 years ago. Initially it was essentially technology driven, then it took a more comprehensive approach, like in Barcelona, where the purpose shifted to primarily answer to the needs of citizens. They moved to focus on people’s well-being and to used technology as a key enabler.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the impact of information and communication technologies on the way we live and work. Keeping up to date with new technologies and integrating them smartly in our cities and communities will be critical to making our lives better and to achieve more sustainable societies.
How do you formulate the right strategy?
BDO has developed long working relationships with many cities across the world. We see that cities’ leaders often do not know where to start when speaking about sustainability and digital transformation. Questions we are asked are 'What should we prioritise?' and 'How can a community tackle the sustainability challenges while at the same time onboarding new technologies?'.
Cities and communities also need to re-organise the way they work. Effectively implementing new solutions require new competencies. Too often, we see that cities’ administration and political levels work in silos. That is not effective anymore. A holistic view is needed with two way communication between political and administration levels, and interaction between all departments.
Implementing new solution requires new models of taxation and financing, which must be well thought through and optimised. Also measuring progress and performance are key to success. Nowadays, auditing goes beyond financial statements. We need to set a new framework and KPIs to measure parameters related to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors, for instance the KPIs developed by U4SSC (United for smart & sustainable cities) or the TCFD Framework (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure).
Cities/communities across the world have different profiles. Their readiness and capacity to deal with sustainability and digital transformation are different. For instance, some might not have integrated the SDGs in their strategy yet while others are already implementing SDGs based solutions.
BDO has created the Smart & Sustainable Community Tool to enable the creation of a snapshot of a city/community.
Objectives of the tool
The tool is built upon the UN SDGs, digital transformation, vision of the future and the resources of the city/community. Its purpose is to raise awareness, provide some insight and a baseline in which decision makers can develop forward looking strategies for the cities/communities.
The BDO Smart & Sustainable Community Tool is a 10 minute survey that provide the user a high level view of the level of maturity of the city/community on the following topics:
- Main challenges of the city/ community;
- Vision and the strategy towards sustainability;
- Capacity to embrace digital transformation;
- Stakeholders’ engagement; and
- Measuring and reporting.
Participants receive a personal report and are invited to have a conversation with BDO to review their answers and subsequently can opt in to receive BDO analysis and recommendations.
If you would be interested in taking the survey and learning more about how we can help your city/community reach its Smart and Sustainable goals, please get in touch with Vincent Bernard