Councils across England are already engaging with the SDGs and taking their own approach given their local contexts. There are commonalities between them: like the mapping of council priorities that Kent County Council, City of York Council, and Leeds City Council have undertaken; the detailed performance monitoring the London Sustainable Development Commission is doing on the Capital; or the strategic partnerships that have evolved in Newcastle and Bristol. There is also a lot of grass-roots engagement, where councils are recognising momentum-building in the business and civil society communities – like in Liverpool or Canterbury. And in some cases, like in Bradford district, it’s the commitment to wellbeing and the climate emergency that is sharpening the focus for the place and the council on the SDGs.
Using these and other international experiences, we have identified four broad ways in which councils might engage with the SDGs. We set them out here in a sequence of steps; a rough roadmap for a council’s SDG journey. The steps overlap, so a council that starts to plan and prioritise its use of the SDGs (the first in the sequence) might, quite rightly, also want to advocate for the SDGs (the fourth and last step) from the outset.