How Baltimore is using the Sustainable Development Goals to make a more just city

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by world leaders in 2015 to create collaborative partnerships across and between countries and communities to achieve objectives around economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. In 2015, as part of the USA Sustainable Cities Initiative (USA-SCI) program, the City of Baltimore, Maryland was selected as one of three U.S. cities to pilot the implementation of the 17 UN SDGs.

USA-SCI was launched in Baltimore (now known as SCI-Baltimore) in order to develop citywide targets and strategies to achieve the SDGs. Baltimore has worked under the umbrella of the University of Baltimore, with guidance from a national U.N.-affiliated group. The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, housed at the University of Baltimore provided substantial support to SCI-Baltimore. For over a decade, the alliance has been producing reports and creating metrics to keep track of various aspects of the city’s development on a neighborhood level - considering health, education, crime, culture and more. After unprecedented civil unrest in Baltimore in 2015, the Alliance also found that they hadn’t established indicators around peace and justice, and were bolstered in turn by the Sustainable Cities Initiative. 

Ultimately, the initiative established 56 specific indicators by which to track Baltimore’s actions toward achieving various aspects of the SDGs. The final report - Baltimore’s Sustainable Future: Localizing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, Strategies and Indicators -  was released December 30, 2016 (the hyperlinked report from the website downloads into your browser as a PDF). The report details how the SDGs Goals and strategies are matched to those of the City of Baltimore, and the indicators are utilized to track this progress.

Goal 16: “Peace and Justice Strong Institutions in Baltimore” is to: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. The Goal 16 indicators determined for Baltimore can be significant or useful for other cities.

Goals related directly to climate change adaptation focus on sustainable agriculture, sustainable water management, resilient infrastructure, and conserving marine resources. The SDGs also focus on social equity and inclusive sustainable development. Each of the 17 SDG Goals are presented along with the same goal as it relates to Baltimore.

SDG Goal 13: Climate Action, is also “Climate Action in Baltimore.” Goal 13 Global Targets include:

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.


Publication Date: March 9, 2017


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