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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development



    In 2016, as all studies portray Saint-Fons territory as combining multiple vulnerabilities, UN SDGs appear as an opportunity to turn these vulnerabilities into positive challenges for 2030. The city of Saint-Fons, the urban planning agency of Lyon (UrbaLyon) and the Cerema decide to collaborate and build an agenda 2030 for the development of Saint-Fons.The objective of this project is to show the many but not enough emphasized actions that local stakeholders carry out locally and that contribute to the 17 UN SDGs, and then, from this diagnosis, using SDGs to build a shared territory project by 2030.

    Objective of the practice

    When launching this project, Saint-Fons is the first community in France to imagine a territorial project based on the 17 SDGs. In order to facilitate raising awareness of elected officials, UrbaLyon produces useful documents that "localize" what the 17 SDGs mean for a territory like Saint-Fons. In addition, the city decides to use the RFSC ( This tool provides self-assessment tools that enable cities to assess the contribution of their projects to UN SDGs. The use of RFSC allows visualizing the overall contribution of the actions led by the city of Saint-Fons to the 17 SDGs. It also estimates, in a prospective approach, the contribution of the actions envisioned in the 2030 agenda. The presentation of the graphics to the elected representatives is a key moment of the project, in that it accelerates the understanding and overall grasp of the SDGs by all the services of the city. The visualization tools are decisive in the commitment of key elected representatives to the follow-up of the project, especially during the 3 collaborative workshops organized by UrbaLyon with many stakeholders for sharing and collaborative construction of the action plan.

    The municipality of Saint-Fons is a city located in the suburbs of Lyon (France).
    The urban agency of Lyon, UrbaLyon, leads the project through the work of a project leader, in charge of the elaboration of the agenda 2030 and support from communication team.
    The Cerema provides expertise and assistance to the team, especially on the use of RFSC and communication at national and international levels.
    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The development of the "Agenda 2030" project for St Fons was supported by the RFSC, a self-assessment tool the inputs of which, in terms of visualizing the contribution to UN SDGs, were particularly important. The use of RFSC has been an important step in localizing the 17 SDGs and taking ownership of these international goals at the local level. The graphics provided by the tool contributed to the understanding of the indivisible nature of SDGs and facilitated their apprehension through the overall vision they propose.
    In 2016, when the team in charge of the project decides to use the 17 UN SDGs to elaborate the agenda for action by 2030 for St Fons, only few cities have initiated such a process. St Fons really appears as a pioneer in localizing SDGs in France. To date, it remains one of the most successful. In addition, the choice to use the RFSC webtool, in its newly released version, also constitutes an innovative approach. Ex-ante evaluation remains quite rare in France on such a large-scale project.

    The visualization of the evaluation results provided by the RFSC played a key role in helping local elected representatives to grasp the potential of the SDGs in the development process of their project. The appropriation of the SDGs was a turning point, with the elected representatives committing, from then on, to the development of the 2030 Agenda.
    In addition, the diagnosis conducted by UrbaLyon, which was essential to collect the material to fill in the RFSC, has identified innovative actions from local businesses, associations and groups of citizens. The highlighting of these local actions contribute to building a positive image of the city, both externally and internally.
    Finally, the visualization of the contribution to SDGs was a first step in the broad mobilization of the actors in the follow up of the project, and in particular, during the workshops aiming at supplementing the action plan of the 2030 Agenda.
    Enabling factors and constraints
    The use of RFSC visual graphs contributes to breaking down silos in several ways. First, the diagnosis phase was an opportunity to realize that sustainable development is not only the result of the municipality actions, but that local actors, such as businesses, associations, groups of citizens, play an increasing role. Becoming aware of the importance of moving from top-down to bottom-up modes approaches, the municipality organized collaborative workshops to work on the future of St Fons and foster synergies between multiple local initiatives.
    Second, the overall vision provided by the SDGs breaked down municipality silos, making it obvious that sustainability, beyond environmental issues, requires integrated approach in every fields.
    This project was also an opportunity to address the issue of localizing the SDGs and capitalize on the local meaning of SDGs through documents and participation to conferences or national seminar. This experience is useful and replicable for other cities.
    Sustainability and replicability
    The use of RFSC (freely accessible on internet at and the mobilisation of the local stakeholders through the organization of several workshops make it possible to duplicate the St Fons experience in different contexts.
    initially painted as a deprived area in the metropolis territory of Lyon, St Fons is progressively recovering from years of social and environmental difficulties and tries to become a newmly attractive city in the area. SDGs are a good tool to do that.

    An SDG good practices recognition would be valuable, showing that Saint-Fons is on the right track, which, in itself, would accelerate the shift from a vulnerable territory to a sustainable and resilient city. This recognition would also facilitate the appropriation of the project by all citizens, making them proud of their city. <br />
    The SDG Action award would also mean being a part of a global story : we think our story could be other cities’ story and we believe we have so much to learn from others.

    Staff / Technical expertise
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    Name Description
    Action Network
    SDG Good Practices First Call
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    10 November 2016 (start date)
    31 December 2019 (date of completion)
    1. Europe
    Geographical coverage
    Website/More information
    Contact Information

    aurore cambien, Director of projects Sustainable city