An SDG approach to the City of London Multi Year Budget

Our goal, looking beyond the budget process, is to ensure collaboration between different sectors and a shared understanding and goal. This process is a right step in that direction” 

Luis Patricio, SDG Cities Co-Lead (London)

In 2023, the City of London approved their 2023-2027 Strategic Plan which lays out the mission and values for the city for the future. The Plan outlines eight key focus areas, including reconciliation, equity, and inclusion, housing and homelessness, economic growth, culture, and prosperity, mobility and transportation, wellbeing and safety, climate action and sustainable growth, safe spaces for women and gender diverse individuals, and ensuring a well run city. 

With the strategic plan approved and finalized, the City started to develop their MultiYear Budget. The draft was published on Dec 12, 2023, a document with 857 pages, including more than 80 business cases addressing crucial issues in the City from housing to gender equity to public health and climate emergency.  Moreover,  the process of drafting the budget included community input, and tried to ensure alignment with the overarching objectives of the City’s Strategic Plan. 

A collaborative effort, spearheaded by Climate Action London, and involving social and environmental groups and organizations in the local community, worked tirelessly since June 2023 to gather information and plan how to mobilize knowledge on the Budget and its process. To ensure a holistic evaluation, a working group created a multi criteria assessment based on the SDGs. The language used aligns with the language in the City’s Budget, taking into consideration that it would be shared with a diverse audience from different walks of life. 

The criteria included the following topics:

  • Extreme Weather Adaptation/Mitigation
  • Clean Energy & Energy Conservation     
  • Solid Waste     
  • Built infrastructure that reduces pollution     
  • Green infrastructure / nature-based solutions reduce pollution     
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services are sustained     
  • Transition from fossil fuels     
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous People     
  • Gender Equality     
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion     
  • Public spaces and accessibility     
  • Economic Development     
  • Economic Savings     
  • Good Health     
  • Food sovereignty 

Of the 80+ business cases presented in the draft, which was released on Dec 12, 2023,  14 business cases were discussed in the two public meetings organized by volunteers in the community. These cases ranged from transit to environmental management and Indigenous Strategic Plans. Given the time constraint of finalizing the cases, adopting an SDG lens to the assessment helped to ensure a holistic process and a shared language used among members of the community during meetings. 

Two public events were hosted (one in-person and one online) in January this year, culminating in the identification of key business cases, including transit service growth, community garden expansion and investment in climate action, using the multicriteria tool based on the SDG framework. Public feedback and coordinated efforts led to recommendations to fund the top five cases.  An open letter was signed by several local organizations and hundreds of Londoners in support of the priority cases that included public transit growth, expansion of community gardens, the implementation of the Climate Emergency Action Plan, Indigenous housing and other affordable housing initiatives.

Overall, this approach showcased how SDGs can be used to inform decision making, creating a shared language across stakeholders and addressing multifaceted issues effectively within the community.