Local Politics: 'Global city' status means global responsibilities

Rob Moore
Downtown Columbus

Columbus’ civic leadership is invested in making Columbus a global city. The Smart Cities grant, recent expansion of the city’s international airport and a thriving, diverse economy position it well to achieve this goal.

But along with the goal of benefiting from global economic development, Columbus has an opportunity to join the world in embracing human development goals.

Global cities such as New York, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Bristol, Buenos Aires and Orlando have all completed voluntary local reviews of their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a list of 17 ambitious goals for 2030 voted on by the United Nations in 2015.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a truly monumental international undertaking, with 193 of the world’s nations signing on to an ambitious plan to improve the lot of the world population. Cities and countries that are keyed into the international community are focused on these goals, using them as a measuring stick for their success at improving their country and a window into the state of international development.

As an emerging global city, Columbus has a part to play in all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Columbus has a role in ending extreme poverty, an affliction still affecting too many Columbus residents.

Columbus has a role in ending hunger, a condition Columbus residents experience more than comparable cities.

Columbus has a role in ensuring its residents are healthy and educated in all neighborhoods and among all subpopulations.

Columbus must fight for equity between the genders when it comes to education, employment and fair pay.

Columbus must ensure all residents have access to clean and affordable water and energy.

Columbus must continue to be a hub for economic growth and innovation.

Columbus must fight for reductions in inequality and for housing affordability.

Columbus must play its part in promoting responsible consumption so as to preserve global climate and water and land ecosystems.

Columbus must promote peace and partnership with other cities, states and countries in order to achieve these goals.

Columbus is doing a lot to achieve these goals. The Franklin County Poverty Assessment demonstrates a willingness among county leaders to address the problem of poverty head-on. Columbus has an active coalition working on issues of hunger. And Columbus has launched prominent initiatives to increase early childhood education attainment and to reduce infant mortality.

But an overall review of Columbus’ progress towards attainment of international human development goals would demonstrate that Columbus is committed to playing a role in a worldwide effort to improve the lives of all people.

Carrying out a voluntary local review of Columbus’ progress on the Sustainable Development Goals would show that Columbus is serious in its intention to be a global city, with all the benefits and responsibilities that entails.

Rob Moore is the principal for Scioto Analysis, a Columbus-based policy analysis firm.