The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 as one of the core frameworks driving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided the impetus to design a new phase of the ASEAN ESC Model Cities programme which is aligned to the SDGs. From around 2016, many parties and experts have launched publications to inform cities about the SDGs and explain how SDGs could or should be implemented in cities. On the other hand, there had been fewer publications which presented the perspectives and practical viewpoints of stakeholders about localising the SDGs, despite the fact that these are equally essential for optimising the design of assistance programmes to cities.
To address this gap in research, the author conducted surveys among national and local stakeholders who have participated in the Model Cities Programme. The survey covered stakeholders’ viewpoints on the SDGs and aimed to uncover their early/first impressions perceptions, expectations and priorities regarding the global goals. By gathering viewpoints on all 17 SDGs, and not only Goal 11 (the ‘dedicated’ goal for cities), the findings shed light on how the average government official perceives SDG-11 with the other goals, as well as misconceptions in interpretation by officials who are not highly familiar with the SDGs. The discussion has an added emphasis on discussing issues relating to local-level data management, which has been highlighted as a key area of improvement by many experts.