The report from Norway confirms that municipalities and county authorities make a significant contribution to the UN's sustainability goals.
KS has prepared a local sustainability report – a Voluntary Subnational Review – in order to map the local government sector’s sustainability work, point out the limitations and show the successes of the work. The report addresses how Norwegian municipalities and county authorities work towards the goals and how the sector contributes to achieving them. It provides many good examples from all over the country. The report also includes summaries from municipalities and county authorities that will carry out local surveys - Voluntary Local Reviews.Voluntary Subnational Review - Norway
Much of the work needed to build a sustainable future must be done locally. Few countries have so far reported on the local government sector's efforts. The report from Norway confirms that municipalities and county municipalities contribute significantly to the UN's sustainability goals through service delivery, welfare production and development work. In several areas within the dimensions of social, environmental and economic sustainability, however, significantly greater efforts are required in the years leading to 2030.
Political prioritization and ownership
Good anchoring of the local government sector’s sustainability work is important. Political prioritization affects the speed and direction of the work. For many, the development of society is steered by the sustainability goals being the basis for the social part of the municipal plan. In municipalities that have come the furthest, the sustainability goals have been operationalized and included in strategic plans and management processes.
Large, central, network-oriented, and recently-merged municipalities have come the furthest in their work. However, being "big and strong" is not a prerequisite for success. Several smaller municipalities are making a formidable effort. Networks, knowledge sharing and collaboration across administrative levels play a major role in the work. The county authorities are important here and the synergies between the local and regional level are well utilized.
Obstacles to action
Through the questionnaire that forms the basis of the report, the local government sector reports on several obstacles to delivering even better towards the sustainability challenges. Several mention a lack of resources, small capacity, insufficient competence, inadequate methods and tools, or weak political priorities. The county authorities point to a lack of support and clear guidelines from national authorities.
Another significant constraint on progress that is often pointed out is a lack of coherent policy between levels of government. Cross-sectoral thinking and the ability to solve development dilemmas in the local government sector are limited by national government sector policy.
Co-operation across administrative levels
The main findings of the report are included in the government's reporting on sustainability work in Norway to the UN in July 2021. Our report seeks to share Norwegian good practice and to strengthen co-operation across administrative levels. KS has therefore entered into a political agreement with the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization to promote co-operation between national, regional and local levels of government in order to further strengthen the work making Norway sustainable.