Member meeting highlights challenges and opportunities for implementing Agenda 2030 | My new site
A bridge over rushing water. A red wooden house and a small mountain in the background.
We need more bridges over troubled waters, not walls that divide us was the common message from the speakers at the last membership meeting.
Photo: Tobias Tullius, Unsplash

Member meeting highlights challenges and opportunities for implementing Agenda 2030


On June 4, SDSN Northern Europe hosted an insightful online member meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities in implementing the UN Agenda 2030 across the Nordic countries. The event featured expert presentations and discussions on promoting sustainable development amidst increasing societal polarization.

Localizing Agenda 2030 in the Nordics

Åsa Ström Hildestrand, Senior Manager at Nordregio, opened the session by sharing insights from the upcoming Nordic Voluntary Sub-National Review (VSR). She emphasized that while the Nordic countries lead in implementing the SDGs, significant challenges remain.

The review, based on interviews and surveys, highlighted that a majority of municipalities in Sweden and Norway have integrated Agenda 2030 into their governance frameworks. Key priorities identified include SDGs 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 4 (Quality Education), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and 13 (Climate Action).

The review also highlighted that while many municipalities have started working towards the SDGs, significant efforts are still needed to fully implement them at the local level.

The Nordic VSR will be presented in a side-event to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on the 9th of July.

Åsa also introduced the ‘Nordic Toolbox,’ a resource highlighting best practices for local SDG implementation. We will publish a link to it when it is official.

Negative and positive narratives of the SDGs

Maria Cortes-Puch, Vice President of Networks at the global UN SDSN, discussed the impact of polarization, misrepresentations, and conspiracies on the implementation of the SDGs.

She noted that negative narratives and fake news are increasingly dominating public discourse, portraying the SDGs as an elitist agenda. Maria stressed the importance of clear and engaging communication to counter these narratives and the role of universities in promoting evidence-based discussions.

She called for innovative approaches, such as citizen assemblies, to engage the public and make the SDGs more relevant to their daily lives.

Coordinating Sweden’s sustainability transformation

Gabriel Wikström, former National Coordinator for Agenda 2030 in Sweden, addressed the challenges and opportunities in coordinating Sweden's sustainability efforts.

He highlighted that the political landscape has shifted, leading to decreased national support and resources for the SDGs. Despite these challenges, local governments and academia continue to play a crucial role in sustaining SDG momentum.

Gabriel noted that many local actors view Agenda 2030 as a valuable tool for addressing multi-sectorial challenges and emphasized the potential of grassroots organizations and academia to form strong alliances in upholding the SDG agenda.

Interactive Q&A and discussions

The meeting featured an interactive Q&A session where participants discussed the impact of social media-driven far-right populism on the UN Agenda 2030 debate. They highlighted the need for increased public engagement and the role of citizen assemblies in reinforcing sustainability knowledge.

The meeting concluded with Martin Eriksson, Network Manager of SDSN Northern Europe, providing news and updates from the secretariat.