Turning the SDGs and Human Rights into Reality

A project on models of cooperation between civil society organisations and local authorities for the localisation of the SDGs. This project was supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers and was implemented between November 2019 – April 2021. 

The success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will depend on effective collaboration between all relevant actors. Its success will also depend on our ability to bring the global commitment to the Agenda 2030 down to the local level, making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality in our cities, municipalities, and regions. In short, the “localisation” of the SDGs will be key, if we are to meet the development challenges set out in Agenda 2030.

The localisation of the SDGs should also be guided by the human rights values, principles and obligations that states have assumed under international, regional, and domestic legal systems. For this reason, it is key that human rights based approaches (HRBAs) are applied at all levels of SDG implementation, particularly in relation to vulnerable groups in society.

What is ‘SDG & Human Rights localisation’?

SDG localisation broadly refers to taking into account local and subnational contexts in the achievement of the sustainable development goals. This means that local perspectives and needs should be included in all aspects of SDG implementation, from agenda setting to the measuring and monitoring of progress.

In practice, this means that actors on city, municipal, and regional level will have a key role as implementers of the Agenda 2030, shaping the global aspirations of the SDGs into concrete actions and initiatives.

How does this project address SDG localisation and human rights?

During 2020-21, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, the Norwegian Center for Human Rights, Åland Islands Peace Institute, and Galaxy Fund have been carrying out a project on ‘SDG and human rights localisation’ processes in Sweden, Norway, the Åland Islands and North West Russia.

The main focus of the project is to explore how local authorities and civil society organisations can cooperate in these processes, in particular regarding issues of social sustainability and inclusion of vulnerable groups (minorities, indigenous peoples, children, etc.). The project also deals with how the SDG localisation processes relate to human rights, in particular with regard to the application of HRBAs by local actors and the role that HRBAs can play in local SDG implementation.

What are the results of the project?

As part of the project activities, each partner organization has carried out a study on different cooperation models between local authorities, CSOs and other local stakeholders in their respective countries and regions, and how these models contribute to SDG and human rights implementation at local level.

In addition, the partner organisations have also developed a Research and Policy Brief that summarises the key research findings and provides a set of policy recommendations for continued support to the localisation of the SDG and human rights.

Introduction to the project

Below, we present and discusss some of the key findings of the project:

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

The study of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute focuses on two initiatives considered as promising in facilitating interactions between LAs and CSOs for SDG and human rights localisation: Framework Agreements (Överenskommelser med Idéburen Sektor) and Idea-driven partnerships (Idéburet Offentligt Partnerskap, or IOP). In addition, this study also analyses some concrete examples of SDGs implementation, within the framework of these two initiatives.

Alejandro Fuentes presents:

Norwegian Center for Human Rights

The study of the Norwegian Center for Human Rights analyses experiences of Norway’s efforts to implement the SDGs and human rights at the local government level in order to show both the challenges but also some partial successes in implementation.

Key legislation and policy frameworks for SDG and human rights implementation are identified, and various concrete examples of localisation models are analysed – both on regional and municipal level.

Peris Sean Jones presents:

The Åland Islands Peace Institute

In the study of the Åland Island Peace Institute, particular attention is given to experiences in the Åland Islands which aim to combine and balance between a human rights based working method and a method relying on the SDGs and on human rights.

Two case studies are presented to illustrate these processes, the network bä and the work of Save the Children.

Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark presents:

Galaxy Fund for Social Projects

Galaxy’s report focuses on the situation the North West Region of Russia, presenting both an overall typology of different forms of interaction between civil society and local authorities, as well as an analysis of challenges and opportunities related to specific local implementation models in the region.

Vladlena Avdeeva presents:

This project is supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers and will be implemented during the period November 2019 – April 2021.

Download the Research & Policy brief


For more information on the project, please contact:

David Eile

David Eile

Senior Programme Officer

Phone: +46 46 222 12 58

David Eile currently works as a Senior Programme Officer responsible for various projects under RWI’s Europe Office, focusing on different forms of academic cooperation in Europe and Cuba. Since joining RWI in 2006, David worked with various human rights programmes in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. David has an MA in Anthropology from Lund University and is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Uppsala.

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