International Collaboration on the SDGs ICLEI Cohort Training

Last updated June 27, 2020

Session Dates [TBC]: 2021

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that local and subnational governments are key stakeholders to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To better respond to what a city or region is doing to act on the SDGs, cities including Toyama, Shimokawa, and Kitakyushu in Japan, and New York City in the USA, pioneered the Voluntarly Local Review (VLR) in 2018 as one mechanism to demonstrate local or subnational action toward a “Local2030 Agenda”. Helsinki, Finland; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Bristol, United Kingdom followed with their leadership in delivering VLRs of their own. By aligning local sustainability actions and plans with the SDGs, cities can advance within a shared framework and communicate to the global community their progress.

In order to support a group of local and regional governments to report their SDG actions ahead of the UN’s annual High-Level Political Forum events, ICLEI will host an International Collaboration Cohort Training session in 2021 to walk up to 20 communities through the steps of developing a VLR of their own. The ultimate goal of the session is to promote a community of practice around the SDGs in cities, towns, counties and regions and enhance the voice of subnational government in the Local2030 Agenda processes. Participants will have the opportunity to present their final reports at a number of international forums during 2021 and 2022.

How does the ICLEI cohort session work?

Over the years, ICLEI has learned that the local government barriers to sustainability programs include cost, access to resources, and internal capacity (time and expertise). In recognition of these challenges, ICLEI administers structured technical assistance programs to overcome challenges and maximize participation. By convening cities seeking to tackle a common challenge via a cohort training model, ICLEI has successfully guided hundreds of communities through progressive levels of achievement in a peer group setting while providing recognition and direct technical assistance. For this International Collaboration Cohort Session toward developing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), ICLEI Regional Offices for the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, and/or Africa will deliver a multi-month deep-dive training that utilizes regular, online screenshare training sessions paired with ongoing direct technical assistance. The session will culimate in three in-person engagement opportunities to create a comprehensive training experience. (Although travel support to in-person events will be explored, participants should not rely on grant-funded travel support being secured and instead budget if at all possible.)

What will participating communties receive?

This training session is free to ICLEI member cities, towns, counties, and regions and is included in your membership. Cohort elements include:

• Small class sizes, ranging from 10 to 20 participants representing geographic diversity
• Regular, structured, live online educational sessions facilitated by ICLEI staff and guest experts
• Live sessions are reinforced with live, ongoing conversation in ICLEI USA’s online training platform, the ICLEI Community
•  Assignments for data collection, processing, and other steps needed to perform tasks related to the subject matter
•  Networking and peer-learning opportunities among users, including in-person when possible
•  Direct individual support from ICLEI staff

Who should apply?

If your community is ready to align its sustainability efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and can devote staff time to produce a Voluntary Local Review report by July 2022, then consider applying. We will accept between up to 20 international ICLEI member communities for a minimum 6-month cohort. Your community’s staff time requirements will consist of approximately 10 hours of live web trainings plus additional hours to complete a series of assignments to complete the VLR. This opportunity is best suited for communities that already have completed an iteration of a sustainability plan and are ready to map their actions to the SDGs. It will be an added benefit for communities available for international travel to ICLEI World Congress 2021 during April 2021 in a European location or to an upcoming UN High-Level Political Forum. (International travel is not requied to participate.)


Session Schedule

Final dates to be confirmed with participant input.

Session Kick-off: Optional in-person workshop during United Nations High-Level Political Forum
2021 • New York City, NY USA
ICLEI will make a formal announcement to the United Nations, The Global Task Force, and partners of the intent of each participant to develop its VLR. Pending availabaility of participants to attend HLPF 2021, ICLEI will co-convene an in-person workshopping and advocacy opportunties for attending participants. A web-based kickoff-event, Session 1 below, will follow HLPF2021 for those unable to attend in-person.

Session 1: Localizing the SDGs: Introduction to Voluntary Local Review Preparation (July 2021)

Participants will be introduced to VLR concepts and each other, including an overview of the Local2030 Agenda and inspiration for the Voluntary Local Review and subnational governments’ role in the SDGs. Following an overview of key outcomes from UN High-level Political Forum 2021, we will provide an introduction to community stakeholder engagement, equitable sustainability planning, and localizing the SDGs. This session will include a showcase of VLRs completed to date with a lead city sharing its case story.

Session 2: Stakeholder Engagement and Public Outreach (August 2021)
Participants will report back on interdepartmental opportunities and challenges to support the SDG-mapping process. A training on participatory engagement will be provided, including gaining elected leadership buy-in, fostering cross-departmental collaboration, and engaging frontline communities. We’ll workshop developing a public workshop schedule and agendas.

Session 3: Mapping the SDGs: Choosing and Tracking Indicators (Septembere 2021)

One-on-One Technical Assistance (October-December 2021)
Participants will work with their regional ICLEI office staff to continue progress.

Session 4: Mapping the SDGs: Round-Robin (January 2022)
Participants will share progress on their VLR reporting, including report-outs from interdepartmental stakeholder and public events. A series of city staff VLR leaders will share their own experiences and help participants overcome challenges.

Session 5: Publishing Your VLR and Communicating Success (March 2022)
This session will discuss report publication opportunities, include design, websites and online dashboards, infographics and communciations best practices. A community VLR leader will share their lessons learned and participants will share out on their community workshop experiences to date.

Session 6: Submitting the VLR and Global Engagement (April 2022)
To prepare for 2021 announcement of each participants’ final VLR during the 2021 High-level Political Forum, this session will discuss the advocacy agenda, speaking opportunities, and publiczing the final outcomes of the cohort.

United Nations High-Level Political Forum [Summer 2021, New York City, NY USA; Optional in-person workshop during this time.]

ICLEI World Congress 2021 [Spring 2021; Location and date to be confirmed]
A showcase session will bring cohort participants together to share out lessons learned with the wider ICLEI community during ICLEI World Congress, likely to be held in a European location.

Ready to join the ICLEI International Collaboration Cohort?

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