Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, regional governments worldwide have been undertaking actions to its achievement based on their competences. The São Paulo State Government has made progressive efforts in the localization of the SDGs. São Paulo is one of the 27 federated units of Brazil, and the richest and the most populous Brazilian state. It represents more than 30% of the Brazilian GDP and includes 645 municipalities with 45 million inhabitants in an area of 250,000 km2.
In 2016, São Paulo established an interdepartmental working group to develop a SDGs implementation strategy. This working group organized activities to promote understanding of the SDGs and its implications on the territory, being supported by UNDP Brazil. The awareness raising strategy consisted of mainstreaming the SDGs into the public administration. Workshops and meetings were held to explain and internalize the agenda to the different ministries and departments within the government, integrating values of sustainable development across relevant bodies, institutions, and public managers. In addition to events with state government officials, potential partners were also targeted, such as municipal mayors, business leaders, and third sector entities.
Aiming at defining the gaps, priorities, and long-term actions, São Paulo mobilized its subnational statistical office (SEADE), linked to the Government Secretariat, as to produce data and build the internal capacities of the government agents. This strategy associated the existent programs to each of the 17 SDGs, developing statistical indicators able to monitor and evaluate the progress reached so far and identify what needs to be done in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The selection of indicators considered the quality of their methodologies, the coherence of their results, the regularity of their production, and the possibility of comparison between federated units.
Additionally, São Paulo is aligning its mid-term planning with the 2030 Agenda. The Pluriannual Plan is a four-year policy guidance that includes targets, resources, and timeframe for each area of action. It is a bill proposed by the executive government and approved by the legislative body that shapes the annual budgets and priority actions in the following years. The assessment of the São Paulo 2016-2019 Pluriannual Plan in the end of the cycle resulted in propositions for the 2020-2023 Pluriannual Plan, which is being currently developed, especially with the goal of having the SDGs mainstreamed since its conception. It incorporates the three dimensions of sustainable development in its guidelines, strategic objectives, programs, and goals. Also, the Pluriannual Plan counted with the civil society participation through public hearings on five themes (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships) that are connected to the 2030 Agenda.
São Paulo is a good example of how regions work with data and indicators, which are a fundamental aspect of monitoring and reviewing the SDGs progress to ensure no one will be left behind. It is important to recall that regional governments and their own statistical offices play a key role in collecting and analyzing disaggregated data that can add, complement, and validate national data, particularly to identify uneven progress on the SDGs within countries. In this regard, a coordinated involvement of subnational governments in national processes could facilitate tracking inequalities, support better decision making at all levels, and enable tailored-cut action to tackle them at the most effective level.
In sum, the experience of São Paulo reflects the importance of elaborating an institutional arrangement to integrate the different sectoral policies and thematic bodies, mobilizing the entire administrative system for concerted action on the SDGs. Coordination, integration, and capacity-building are crucial aspects to ensure all concerned entities have the means to contribute to SDGs implementation. Multi-level coordination and decentralization is fundamental to guarantee efficient data collection and analysis at the subnational level. The provision of adequate technical and financial resources as well as the legal and institutional frameworks are indispensable for regional governments to achieve their full potential in the monitoring the 2030 Agenda.