GCI & WCCD launch report on data & the sustainable development goals at UN headquarters in New York

July 17th, 2017

New York, New York

United Nations Headquarters

On Monday, July 17th, at United Nations Headquarters, Patricia McCarney, Director of the Global Cities Institute, Richard Sommer, Dean of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, as well as Global Cities Institute student interns, brought the work of the Global Cities Institute before an international audience participating in the launch of Local2030: Hub for Sustainable Solutions at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum.

At the invitation of the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary General, the forum was aimed at operationalizing the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at the city level. Based on the work of the Global Cities Institute and the World Council on City Data (WCCD), Dr. McCarney launched “WCCD City Data for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”- an exhaustive, 500-page report that demonstrates that cities around the world are the true determiners of a sustainable future for the planet.

Framed by the SDGs, the report is a comprehensive overview of over 45 cities, their dedication to sustainability, and moreover the economic and social power of local governments as agents of transformational change.


The launch of “WCCD City Data for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” and Local 2030 took place at the UN headquarters in New York, bringing together countries from around the world represented at the Ministerial level to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Participants in the forum included:

  • Ms. Amina J. Mohammed - Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

  • Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough - Director, Sustainable Development Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General

  • Ms. Winnie Byanyima - Executive Director, Oxfam International

  • Ms. Celina Caesar-Chavannes - Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, HLPF Head of Delegation, Government of Canada

  • The Honorable Berry Vrbanovic - Mayor, Kitchener, Ontario, UCLD Treasurer and Representative of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments

  • Ms. Penny Abeywardena - Commissioner for International Affairs, New York City and many other distinguished representatives.

Gary Dyke - Chief Administrative Officer, City of Cambridge, Canada (Centre) announces the establishment of the WCCD-Cambridge Local 2030 Data Hub, together with Carlos Colombo (Left) (Buenos Aires), and Stefan Schweinfest (Right), Director of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

The “WCCD City Data for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” report was able to map the United Nations SDGs to measurable indicators for cities thanks to the work of the Global Cities Institute and the WCCD in developing ISO 37120 - the ISO standard for Sustainable development in communities: Indicators for city services and quality of life - the world’s first and only source of standardized data for cities. As Director of the Institute and President & CEO of the WCCD, Dr. McCarney was invited by the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary General to lead a Thematic Session at the UN Headquarters in New York, on the need for local data to drive progress on the SDGs at the city level.

Participating in the session led by Dr. McCarney were:

  • Mr. Stefan Schweinfest - Director, United Nations Statistical Division

  • Mr. Anil Arora - Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada

  • Mr. Adam Vaughan - MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs, Government of Canada

  • Mr. Carlos Colombo - Undersecretary of Planning, City of Buenos Aires

  • The Honorable Doug Craig - Mayor, Cambridge, Canada

  • The Honorable Silvia Muzila - Mayor, Francistown, Botswana

  • Mr. Paul Clements-Hunt - CEO, The Blended Capital Group

  • Ms. Barbara Kreissler - Director, B2G Professional Lighting, Philips Lighting

  • Mrs. Kari Aina Eik - Secretary General, Organization for International Economic Relations.

Carlos Colombo, Undersecretary of Planning for the City of Buenos Aires signs the MOU towards establishing the WCCD-Buenos Aires Local Data Hub with Global Cities Institute Director and WCCD President & CEO, Dr. Patricia McCarney.

“Cities represent more than 80 per cent of global GDP,” says Professor Patricia McCarney, who concurrently serves as Director of the Global Cities Institute and President and CEO of the WCCD. “Results-driven tracking empowers cities to direct and leverage investment, a core success factor in operationalizing each target across all of the SDGs. It is cities and globally standardised city level data that present an unparalleled opportunity for successful implementation of the SDGs by 2030.

The more than 300 data graphs presented in the Report are the result of dedicated cities reporting data on 100 indicators to the WCCD, in conformity with ISO 37120, data which is then third party verified. ISO 37120 is the first international standard for comparable city data, built by cities committed to building a culture of data, so that cities can converse, exchange lessons and innovations with other cities globally.

Professor McCarney emphasized that “WCCD City Data for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” shows how high calibre city level data is already building in breadth and depth. “It has the power to support local investment, to drive local climate change policy, and of course, to support the SDGs. I firmly believe that this data is essential to the success of the SDGs and this success will rise and fall in cities. City leaders stand at the pivotal points for global change in building a more sustainable planet,” McCarney continued. “The prosperity of nations and regions is, more than ever, dependent upon the economic performance of cities. City leaders have the power and responsibility to direct and leverage investment, a core success factor in operationalizing each target across all of the 17 SDGs.”