Canterbury could become a pioneer in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — and might become an example of good practice in a report which the UK must produce next year on national progress. A meeting is being held this Friday (30 November) for a cross-channel exchange of ideas on how local authorities can build a sustainable future.
The goals (SDGs) were set by the United Nations in 2015, and cover 17 areas from eradicating poverty to protecting the cultural heritage and providing “good health” for all. The aim is to achieve them by 2030.
The meeting, under the title The Sustainability Challenge: Implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Locally, will take place in Old Sessions House, Canterbury Christ Church University.
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Guest speaker, Evert Bessemans, from the municipal authority of Sint-Truiden in Belgium – one of a number of Flemish local councils playing a lead role in the promotion of SDGs – will introduce a panel discussion including representatives from Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and Christ Church University.
The meeting has been organised by Canterbury SDG Forum, a coalition of local organisations including the universities, the Canterbury Society, Canterbury UNA Branch and other groups, working to promote implementation of the SDGs locally. It is producing 12 reports recommending local action on particular targets.
Canterbury City Council has produced its own report on four examples of good practice to be submitted to the government, with the hope that some or all of them will be included in the national report which the UK must file to the UN in 2019. Local action is seen as crucial to delivering the SDGs.
The presence of the two universities in Canterbury gives the city a head start in devising and implementing SDG strategies. Speaking recently, Professor Rick Norman, chair of the Canterbury SDG Forum, highlighted their contributions. “Very good work is being done at Canterbury Christ Church University,” he said.
“They have a strong sustainability team, and a student green office. Christ Church is trying to integrate awareness of sustainability into its curriculum, encouraging all staff on all courses to make references to SDGs. The University of Kent is also making good progress, and both universities have signed up to the SDG Education Accord.”
Particular challenges for Canterbury, he added, are air quality, “the big pockets of poverty” in the city, homelessness and the need for genuinely affordable housing.
The meeting will take place in Room of 42 of Old Sessions House in Canterbury Christ Church University. There will be drinks in the foyer of Old Sessions House from 5.30pm on and the Symposium will begin at 6pm.
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