Belgrade, 28 to 30 November 2018. Following two years of constructive cooperation, the pilot phase of the 'Municipal Partnerships for Sustainability' project drew to a close in wintry Belgrade. Twelve partnerships between South-East European and German municipalities had spent two years aligning their cooperation with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. 'You are pioneers. Together with your partners, you have blazed a trail. And we've been effective as a result', said Jessica Baier, the Service Agency's Department Head for Thematic Partnerships and Localising the 2030 Agenda, as she acknowledged the municipalities' dedication. Since early 2017 the municipal teams have been developing a whole range of ideas for implementation, and have conducted first pilot measures designed to help operationalise the transformation for more sustainability agreed in the 2030 Agenda. Examples include school projects for establishing solar-powered mobile charging stations in Ingolstadt (Germany) and Kragujevac (Serbia), unsealing land and planting trees for an 'environmentally sound motorway for insects and birds’ in Kirchhain (Germany) and Viti (Kosovo), or the joint work on master plans for sustainable urban development in Leipzig (Germany) and Travnik (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
All these pilot activities were linked to the goal of raising awareness of the SDGs and getting citizens on board for local sustainability. They produced a wide array of event formats and educational materials for various target groups – including the ‘Multicoloured market for sustainability' (an event for raising public awareness), a poetry slam, a graffiti project, and various kinds of games for children and teenagers. The municipalities were very keen to swap their proven project ideas for publicising and implementing the 2030 Agenda, and pass them on for others to use, in a spirit of 'grab whatever you like’. As one participant put it when talking about the work of the project to date, 'All this is seismic. There's a whole lot going on under the surface. Passing it on is certainly a good thing.'