In November 2019, the second convening of the SDGs Leadership Cities meeting hosted by the Brookings Institute was held in Mexico City, Mexico. Toshikazu Yazawa, Director of Office of the City of Yokohama Representative to the Americas, represented Yokohama City at the meeting.
The importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the United Nations is not only in their function as goals for national governments, but also as goals (and important growth indicators) for companies and cities worldwide. Yokohama City, as the second largest city in Japan, had been supporting and enacting a large number of projects focused on sustainability, such as smart city initiatives, energy efficiency improvements, waste reduction and recycling, even before the SDGs were formally announced and championed by the United Nations. One of the characteristics of Yokohama City’s approach to sustainable growth is its focus on not only the achievement of the SDGs within the city, but advancing the worldwide progress towards the SDGs through collaboration and partnerships with other Asian and African countries, especially those currently dealing with rapid urbanization.
Yokohama’s participation in this SDGs Leadership Cities gathering was possible thanks to the Brooking’s Institute evaluation of the city’s initiatives. A total of 13 cities from across the globe participated and engaged in discussions and presentations, touching on topics like data collection/reporting, financing, public procurement, and public safety. Yokohama City’s presentation focused on its experience in solving urbanization challenges through its partnerships with Asian and African cities.
Yokohama City is collaborating with companies and international organizations to helped emerging cities improve their infrastructure and incorporate smart city technology into their development. Of course, the roadblocks to sustainability and the challenges to overcome often vary dramatically for every area and city based on their environment, capabilities, and situation, so there’s no guarantee that what has worked for Yokohama will be applicable for all other cities worldwide, but Yokohama’s position is that to achieve the SDGs worldwide it is absolutely essential to promote and encourage them in developing and emerging cities with greatly rising populations. One of the goals of the SDGs Leadership Cities meeting is to bring together cities around the world to discuss and share experience concerning the SDGs, thereby contributing to the promotion of SDGs in not only currently-participating cities, but non-participating cities as well.
Yokohama City seeks to continue discussions with the Brookings Institution and participating cities with the aim of contributing to worldwide growth and prosperity.