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Localizing the SDGs: Where do Canadian Communities Stand?

July 13, 2021 @ 8:30 am - 9:30 am

This event is taking place at 8:30 am Pacific Time / 11:30 am Eastern Time.

In March 2018 Canada’s first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) was released for the community of Kelowna (British Columbia). We are now seeing a wave of VLRs across Canada from Winnipeg (Manitoba) to London (Ontario) and Montreal (Quebec) to name a few.  

The year 2020 was marked with two critical events, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, which amplified the injustice, inequalities and intersecting barriers experienced by marginalized groups (indigeneity, ethnicity, gender, income status, age, etc.) across the globe. 

Canada is not immune to these inequities that have been harboured in a history of colonization, systemic racism, and ongoing discrimination. Many of the rules that govern society and too many of our social and economic policies reflect bias and discrimination (both conscious and unconscious), reinforcing the false premise that some people are better or more deserving than others. Such policies and governance structures are failing marginalized people and impacting access and availability of the resources and opportunities necessary to support well-being. As a result certain groups are being ‘left behind’ in this final Decade of Action rendering the gains brought about by the 2030 Agenda and its underlying Leave No One Behind (LNOB)  pledge questionable.

As a large country with great diversity in geography, economic activity and population densities, the issues faced by Canadians can dramatically change between provinces and territories, regions, and the cities and communities within. Interlinkages and the interaction of the SDGs – and potential synergies and trade offs – at the localized level become ever more important in working together as a community to identify and understand the barriers faced by marginalized people and the support required to remove them. Join us as we discuss how three cities in Canada are tackling these issues in Kelowna, Winnipeg and London, and how these considerations have informed the way that VLRs were designed and compiled to measure and accelerate progress for a more equitable, just and sustainable world for all. 

Join us on July 13th at 8:30am PT (11:30am ET) where panelists will present their localization and Voluntary Local Review projects from Canadian communities. After presentations from panelists, there will be a Q&A section where audience members will be able to submit questions for panelists.


Luis Patricio is one of the SDG Cities co-leads. A partnership between Pillar Nonprofit and 10Carden that aims to increase the number of people and organizations actively using and contributing to the SDGs in mid-sized cities in Canada to achieve positive long-term impacts. Previous to his current role, Luis led a SDG localization project in London, Ontario. Through a community engagement process, Luis translated the global goals into a set of relevant local SDG indicators. Luis has been involved with non-profit organizations and cross-sector collaboration since 2007. Luis holds a Masters in Urban Management with a focus on active transportation and behaviour change.

Beth Timmers is an environmental social scientist working with the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) based in Winnipeg, Canada. In her role as a Policy Advisor on IISD’s Tracking-Progress team, Beth supports communities to build evidence-based policy and track sustainable development. Beth manages Winnipeg’s community indicator system, Peg, that tracks local dimensions of well-being and sustainable development. This year, Beth is writing Winnipeg’s Voluntary Local Review with Peg, which can be used as a case study for other communities with indicator systems to assemble their own Review. Beth has a PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability from the University of Waterloo and ten years of applied research expertise in food systems sustainability in tropical regions. Beth previously worked at the International Development Research Centre and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Danielle Noble-Brandt is a Canadian urban planner passionate about creating places where people flourish.  In her current capacity, she shares her vision for cities of the future and her belief in the importance of public sector leadership to advancing community livability through deliberate and intentional planning filtered through a public health lens. 

Over the past fifteen years, most recently as the Department Manager of Policy and Planning for the City of Kelowna, she has advanced policy direction on commencing a Healthy City Strategy, Climate Action Plan update, 2040 OCP, and various strategies for revitalizing neighbourhoods. Her planning practice is characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors, and advancing the built environment to improve health, equity, and connectedness for communities.  Today, what has captured her imagination, is the vast opportunity afforded by this moment in our history to evoke meaningful change. Important issues of unemployment, inequality, food insecurity, and climate vulnerability will require new systems and approaches to be considered.

Danielle has an Honours degree in Science from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters in Environmental Studies, Planning, from Wilfred Laurier University. 

As an Aerospace Engineering graduate, Kusum Wijesekera spent 12 years working in the Aerospace Industry which was full of exciting challenges and milestones. She now works in the construction industry as a Commissioning Specialist.   

She worked with BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) to develop Canada’s first Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR), measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) progress for the community of Kelowna, B.C.  She hopes this VLR will provide as a guide to encourage other communities in Canada to develop similar VLRs, advocating and supporting progress for everyone, including marginalized groups.  As an Engineers Without Borders Fellow, she worked in Ghana trying to address food insecurity through edible insect farming. As a registered Project Management Professional (PMP), while in Ghana, she mentored both women and men in developing project management skills and continues to do so today.  Prior to that, Kusum was the Chair of GECCO, a Chapter of BCCIC working to support sustainable local and global change using the SDGs as a framework. She has served as Director of Programs and Vice-President for Her International, an organization facilitating community development in Nepal and Canada by empowering women and girls through education via programs such as scholarship and micro-credit. She has also been involved with One Billion Stronger, an international photo campaign aimed at bringing awareness and initiating a dialogue around gender-based violence.  

Chesa Abma-Slade, Xwsepsum (Esquimalt Nation) member, believes in the importance of representing the diverse perspectives of Indigenous peoples’ (especially Indigenous children and youth) in movements for change. Currently she is studying law in a joint degree program in Canadian common law and Indigenous legal orders. Chésa’s work experience includes education, research, and communication within schools, First Nation communities, NGO’s, and government organizations.


Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber is the Policy Director & Gender Specialist at BCCIC. She has a doctorate in International Development Studies from the University of Oxford. Zosa has accrued 17 years of experience in research, evaluation, and policy analysis in developing, transitional, and emergency contexts in South East Europe, Central Asia, West Africa, and Southern Africa. Zosa has published two books as well as numerous book chapters, academic articles, reports, and policy briefs on topics related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, Zosa has written reports and policy briefs on the ‘leave no one behind’ pledge, leveraging SDG interlinkages, multi-stakeholder collaboration, ‘whole-of-society’ and ‘whole-of-government’ approaches to the 2030 Agenda, focusing specifically on SDG coalitions and multi-stakeholder advisory councils and similar bodies.


July 13, 2021
8:30 am - 9:30 am