UN SDGs: three cities score highly

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MADRID – The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index scores cities on 17 goals for a better world by 2030. Consultancy firm IdenCity reported in January on 52 Spanish cities and their performance against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastián came out top in the compliance table. All 52 cities displayed a compliance of 60% with SDGs. 

There are seventeen Sustainable Development Goals which cover issues ranging from stopping poverty and hunger to climate action and peace, justice and strong institutions. The UN calls them “a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet”. The goals also provide a critical framework for Covid-19 recovery.

UN sdgs

How was Spanish compliance evaluated?

IdenCity specialises in transformation processes of cities and territories and chaired by the former mayor of Barcelona Jordi Hereu. They prepared an Index looking at 125 of the 169 specific targets set by the UN in the 2030 Agenda. “Through our indices, at IdenCity we wanted to create a tool to monitor the behaviour of cities in a series of urban areas. Along these lines, the SDG Index allows us to accompany cities and territories in their transformation process to achieve compliance with the 2030 Agenda,” Hereu highlighted.

Best results

The goal which had an average compliance rate of 85% across all the Spanish cities was Goal 3. The area which needs most work with an average of only 32% is  Goal 13 – Climate Action.
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions, and SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth, had a strong showing with an average degree of compliance of 76% and 73% respectively.

Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastián in the lead

San Sebastián leads the way with top spot among the 52 cities for SDG 4, SDG 12 and SDG15 -. It placed third for SDG 13 and fourth for SDG 11.

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

Madrid also performed well, appearing on six occasions among the five Spanish cities that most meet an SDG. It ranked first for  Goal 16, third for Goal 8, fourth for Goal 17, and fifth in Goals 1, 9 and 12. 

Barcelona ranks as the Spanish capital with the highest compliance with SDGs 1 and 9. It appears in three second places in Goals 12, 14  and 17.

Bilbao, Tarragona and Zaragoza are also at the forefront with five appearances for each in the “top5” of the SDGs.

Autonomous communities

At territorial level, the study shows “positive and balanced” data on a national scale. With the exception of the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, all autonomous communities appeared at least once in the top five positions.

Andalusia, Catalonia and the Basque Country achieved the highest representation in the “Top 5” of the SDGs.


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