The Sustainability Revolution Portrait Of A Paradigm Shift

The Sustainability Revolution Portrait Of A Paradigm Shift – How Corporate Social Responsibility and External Stakeholder Concerns Affect Green Supply Chain Collaboration among Manufacturers: A Descriptive Structural Model Analysis

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The Sustainability Revolution Portrait Of A Paradigm Shift

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A systemic approach to sustainability implementation planning at the local level through SDG target prioritization: The case of Quebec City

A (non) Modest Proposal For The G20: A Sustainable World Commission To Achieve The Sdgs

By David Tremblay 1, * , Sabine Gauci 2 , Olivier Rifan 1 , Jean-Francois Boucher 1 , Samuel Dube 2 and Claude Villeneuve 1

Received: 23 January 2021 / Revised: 16 February 2021 / Accepted: 22 February 2021 / Published: 26 February 2021

(This article belongs to a special issue of New Approaches to Social, Environmental Management and Approaches to Addressing the SDGs)

The success of the 2030 Agenda depends on mobilization at the local level. Localization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adaptation of their targets to local contexts. This case study of Quebec City, Canada, illustrates how the use of a systemic sustainability analysis tool can help integrate the SDGs into creating a sustainable development strategy at the local level. Our approach focuses on the use of the SDG Target Prioritization Grid (SDGT-PG) and begins with the mobilization and training of a group of officials representing various city services. We first used an original text-mining framework to assess SDG integration in existing strategy documents published by the city. The outcome provides a portrait of existing contributions to the SDG goals and identifies potential synergies and trade-offs between services and existing approaches. A city-wide prioritization workshop was held to assess the relative importance of the SDG targets for the city. The priorities were identified by combining the importance of the goals as viewed by the stakeholders, the current level of achieving the SDG goals as determined by the analysis of existing documents, and the jurisdiction and responsibilities given to the City of Quebec in relation to federal and provincial legislation. We have identified key focus areas and related SDG targets. Furthermore, we note whether measures need to be consolidated or new measures implemented. The identification of synergies and trade-offs in city service actions provides information on links to be made between different municipal services and calls for partnerships with other organizations. The use of the SDGT-PG enables vertical and horizontal integration of the SDG goals and shows how it facilitates participation and inclusion of stakeholder allocation in an applied sustainable development strategy.

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In 2015, the members of the United Nations unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [1]. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and 169 targets represent a global framework to guide the implementation of sustainable development (SD) by 2030 [2, 3]. Although the SDGs and targets were originally formulated for the global level [ 4 ], the 2030 Agenda is a universal program applicable to all governments and actors regardless of their level of intervention [ 1 , 5 ]. Since cities represent the level of government closest to the population [6], according to the powers assigned to them, [7, 8, 9], they have the ability to intervene quickly and specifically and they are considered essential roles for sustainability. 4]. Furthermore, urbanization is accelerating worldwide and it is estimated that 68 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban area by 2050 [10]. Moreover, all human activities at the city level affect the economy, environment, people, culture, governance, etc. [4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13].

A comprehensive and systemic approach is needed to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the SDGs [1, 14, 15]. The principle of integration applies (i) horizontally between different policy areas, (ii) vertically from global to national to local level and (iii) regionally between local governments [6]. SDG implementation at the local level is called “localization”. In the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda, SDG localization refers to “defining, implementing and monitoring strategies at the local level to achieve global, national and subnational SDGs and targets” [ 16 ]. Although there are many policies and instruments at the national level [11], the localization of the SDGs requires that documented [3] policies apply sustainable development at the local level [17]. Scientific research on cities and the SDGs has increased [ 7 , 18 , 19 ]; However, a knowledge gap remains regarding how best to implement the SDGs at the local level [3, 11].

Policies and instruments dedicated to SDG localization have some critical aspects. Although the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets are set as “universal and indivisible”, they should be applied according to realities, capacities, levels of development and priorities specific to national or local contexts [1, 20]. Cities face various challenges when implementing the SDGs. These challenges include their approaches in the context of specific environmental, economic, social, political and cultural conditions [7, 21, 22]. This contextualization involves making the SDG content and their targets locally relevant [3, 6], while maintaining holistic and systemic thinking to keep a holistic view of the whole system [1, 14, 15, 23]. A systemic approach refers to horizontal, vertical and spatial integration [24]. Horizontally, integration aims to maximize synergies and minimize trade-offs [ 4 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 ]. Vertically, at the local level, integration involves the principle of subsidiarity [7, 11, 28] and a clear understanding of the division of powers between different levels of government [11, 14, 28]. In addition to implementing the SDGs, implementing these elements ensures policy coordination and integrated multilevel governance [6, 7, 28].

Prioritizing the SDG goals is critical for local authorities, as the needs are multiple and urgent; However, there are often limited capacities and resources. Prioritization is a complex exercise of assessing the importance of a goal at a given point in time for a particular territory and determining its degree of achievement [2]. A comprehensive approach to the SDGs will trigger a paradigm shift in the deployment of development plans and strategies at all levels. Today, it is a matter of achieving a global and shared vision. Thus, the SDGs and their targets can be a common framework. Due to the inefficiency and irrelevance for cities to implement all goals, it is essential to use policies and tools to determine priorities [4, 29].

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A growing number of studies are looking at a systemic approach to prioritizing and implementing the SDGs [12, 27, 30, 31]; However, very few tools for SDG and target prioritization are documented in the scientific literature. Among the papers presenting the tools, three include a set of criteria for establishing priorities. First, Allen et al. [30] proposed a multi-criteria analysis to prioritize SDG targets by using three main criteria:

The Stockholder Forum [20] presented an analytical method to help identify the goals and objectives that represent the greatest transition challenges for developed countries. They proposed three criteria:

This paper presents a case study of Quebec City (Quebec, Canada) using an original and adapted systemic sustainability analysis tool. Quebec City is located in the province of Quebec, Canada. Canada is a federal state with responsibilities shared between federal and provincial jurisdictions. Local governments such as cities are regionally responsible; However, as issues related to sustainable development touch multiple jurisdictions, our analysis includes federal, regional and local (city) levels. This approach aims to enhance implementation of the SDGs at the local level and integrate key elements of contextualization, adaptation, systems thinking, linkage and policy coordination.

The methodology focuses primarily on the use of the SDG Goal Priority Grid (SDGT-PG), a shared prioritization tool for SDG goals applicable at local, national and regional scales. The SDGT-PG methodology is inspired by the Sustainable Development Analytical Grid (SDAG) used at local and national levels since 1988 [32]. The SDAG methodology, which emphasizes participatory processes and scientific rigor, was developed in partnership between academics (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada), an international organization (Organisation Internationale de la La).

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