SDG Localization in the Arab States

Monday, 21 March, 2022

Policy Brief - SDG Localization in the Arab States

Originally published on 20 March 2022 by UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS)

Although many countries in the Arab States have embarked on SDG Localization processes, the terminology and implications of SDG Localization are often not well-understood, with inclusive and participatory mechanisms often lacking. While a number of initiatives are labeled as ‘Localization’, a comprehensive re-think of sustainable development through an SDG Localization lens is largely absent. This implies that there is significant room to improve collective prioritization of the SDGs in the local context and, thereby, incorporation of the SDGs into local development planning and monitoring of progress.

The rationale behind developing this policy brief is to stimulate and inform SDG Localization oriented programming and advisory services across thematic areas at UNDP Global Policy Network (GPN) and the country offices (COs) of the Regional Bureau for the Arab States (RBAS). Flowing from this rationale, the aim of the policy brief is to enhance the understanding – and ultimately the promotion – of SDG Localization as a framework to boost inclusive participation, prioritize local needs in development planning and build disaggregated monitoring and reporting mechanisms. The better understanding of SDG Localization as a framework to facilitate a bottom-up approach in various thematic areas will complement existing programming and allow UNDP to deliver differently at sub-national level. Through programmes across thematic portfolios, SDG Localization holds a particular potential to address the unique needs of the local level and become a key enabler for advancing sustainable development and leaving no one behind.

This policy brief will also feed into the global UNDP strategic plans for the corporate Local Governance Portfolio, as well as the NextGen Local Governance Offer. The current development of the NextGen UNDP Local Governance Offer, rooted in novel collaborative approaches to Local Governance as an enabler for delivering SDGs at local level, provides significant synergies to be leveraged.

Simultaneously, the corporate process of developing a new UNDP Strategic Plan must equally be explored and leveraged to secure a better understanding and positioning of SDG Localization across all COs.

The first part of the brief dives into the concept and application of SDG Localization as a framework to facilitate inclusive bottom-up development processes. Followed by a regional analysis of development contexts in the Arab States region. Particular attention is paid to the areas of governance and institutions, inequalities, conflict, disasters, shocks and fragility, and urbanization, which are inherent to this regional context, especially at the local level. In addition, a short analysis of COVID-19 response is provided in this section to reflect the most recent context. In the second half, building on the regional analysis, the policy brief then highlights a set of bottlenecks and enablers for SDG Localization to be considered in related programming and policy support.

The policy brief showcases a series of concrete examples that can inform COs of the practices of peers in other Arab countries. The issues and good practices highlighted in the brief are derived from an extensive desk review and direct consultations with RBAS COs. A few models of institutional and coordination mechanisms to implement the SDGs are also illustrated to show how the implementation of the SDGs is coordinated among the multi-stakeholders in the region.

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