Dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Regions
of the Russian Federation: Readiness Inspection
Galina Menshikova
, Alexandr Soshnev
and Svetlana Evstratchik
Petersburg State University, Faculty of Sociology, 7/9, Universitetskaya nab., St. Petersburg, Russia
Keywords: SDGs, Sustainable Development, Regional Rankings of the Russian Federation, System of Indicators Used
to Monitor the Development of Regions (Cities), Information Confidentiality.
Abstract: The development of SDG ideas is significant not only as the implementation of the intention to achieve
balanced development but also as a test of the readiness of state and regional systems to be adequate to modern
management requirements, including the openness of information. Purpose of the article: to assess the
readiness of the Russian regions for the transition to new management criteria, for which three tasks have
been set. The first is to show the general process of transition from sustainable development in Russia,
including its regions, to the SDGs. The second is to present a monitoring system for evaluating regional
processes related to sustainable development. The third is to compare the current system of indicators with
the one recommended by the UN
. The theoretical basis is the research that is at the intersection of the theories
of information openness and social responsibility of the government as a reflection of patron-agency relations.
The authors chose the Results-oriented public administration approach (Eisenstadt and Runiger, 1980),
(Lindberg Steffan, 2013), (Ugur and Erdogan, 2007), (APJ, 2010), (Yigitcanlar et al., 2019), seen as a
manifestation of Good Governance. Three conclusions can be drawn from the study. First, the regions of the
Russian Federation (as a whole) are not yet ready for the implementation of the SDGs. Second, a system of
experts has developed and monitors trends related to the SDGs: quality of life, level of environmental safety,
etc. Third - the system of indicators used to assess the sustainability of regions (cities), reflects the lack of a
developed information base and indirectly fixes the lack of political will of the leaders to orient management
towards economic, social, and environmental results. So far, in Russia, loyalty to the higher management is
valued higher than the development of the economy and the growth of the quality of people's life.
The movement towards sustainable development as a
global world trend emerged at the end of the ХХ
century. This meant replacing economic orientations
with a wide range of parameters, including social,
environmental, and political ones. The development
of the course was carried out through the
concretization of the forms of embodiment, and
therefore new opportunities for the UN for
monitoring their implementation by states. Currently,
the movement towards sustainability is focused on
achieving 17 goals (SDG's), designated as milestones
in the UN policy document "Transforming our world:
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"
In parallel with the specification of the
parameters, the development of the trend is carried
out through the spread of its ideas to ever lower levels
of management: in particular, to regions (cities) and
enterprises. For these purposes, similar to the UN
control over the development of countries, the
monitoring of enterprises and regions, carried out by
Governments is being organized. In this context, i.e.
combining national development with the
transformation of goals in the regions and at
enterprises, the UN recommends organizing activities
to achieve the SDG's. The purpose of our analysis is
to assess the readiness of the regions of the Russian
Menshikova, G., Soshnev, A. and Evstratchik, S.
Dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Regions of the Russian Federation: Readiness Inspection.
DOI: 10.5220/0010588001860192
In Proceedings of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure (ISSDRI 2021), pages 186-192
ISBN: 978-989-758-519-7
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
Federation to rebuild the guidelines of their
management for new tasks
The development of SDG ideas is significant not only
from the standpoint of the implementation of the
intention to achieve balanced development, but also
as a test of the readiness of systems (both state and
regional) to be adequate to modern management
requirements, including the openness of information.
Now, when, in general, statistical problems are
mostly resolved and data collection on most of the
UN-recommended indicators is being established, it
is important that the regions develop the statistical
base by providing relevant information on their
websites, as well as publishing it in regional statistical
The openness of information is recognized as the
most important criteria for Good Governance, while
its provision is considered the most important duty of
the state, one of the principles of implementation of
the Public Administration. As a reminder, this term is
usually used to denote the modern stage of
government. This allowed democracy to reach such a
level that the state, within the framework of the
system of patron-client relations, is obliged to report
to the population, which, in turn, through the
institution of free elections and on the basis of open
information and annual reports of leaders, selects
those candidates for managerial positions who will
manage better than others.
The theory of patron-client relations as the basis
of the accountability mechanism, including in the
framework of the openness of state information, is the
methodological basis of the publication. As you
know, Sh. Eisenstadt and L. Roniger are considered
its originators. (Eisenstadt and Runiger, 1980) This
approach was deepened by C. Lindberg (Lindberg,
2013), Stiglits J. (Stiglits, 2002), and many other
authors who substantiated the mechanism for the
implementation of "vertical democracy". At present,
the issues on the topics of both accountability and
transparency of the public administration system are
of great interest to researchers, as noted by the authors
of reviews, for example (Kaya and Yayla, 2007; Mol,
2010; Yigitcanlar, 2019) and others.
The second theoretical trend, actively used by the
authors of the publication, is the work describing the
role of SDGs (Stiglits, 2014; Allen, 2019), revealing
the need for its expansion to the regional level
(Olakitan Atanda, 2019) and many others, as well as
assessing the availability of information on
achievements of a region in this direction (Gardner,
Let's name two more directions that cannot be
ignored. The first is the abundant literature describing
the emergence and development of Smart cites
(Visvizi, 2019; Joss, 2019; Yigitcanlar, 2019) and
others, as well as research on methodological
problems of improving city/regional reporting
(Huovila, 2019; Greco, 2019; Joss, 2019) and many
others. Both directions are of great importance,
although they were used in our publication only as
guidelines for the future. The first is due to the fact
that Smart cities exist in the country, but are little
included in the state regional policy. They were
formed on the initiative of citizens and, as a rule, were
not reflected in the rankings. The second is due to the
fact that Russian researchers do not yet have special
opportunities for choosing a system of reporting
indicators. For them, the main selection criterion is
not the appropriateness of the indicator as the best
criterion for evaluating, but the real possibility of
obtaining comparable data.
The UN and OECD rightly see the dissemination of
the ideas of the SDGs to the regions as the most
important task for the development of the global
trend. Indeed, the ideas of sustainable development
can then and only then be recognized as actually
achieved, when they are accepted by each person,
becoming a guideline in the management of all
enterprises and cities.
With that in mind, the OECD launched the
Territorial Approach to the SDGs project
Territorial Approach, 2020), which was intended to
initiate the implementation of ideas in cities of OECD
countries. It is the result of 18 months of political
dialogue with 1000+ interested parties. Its
conclusions and recommendations were based on
specific ideas from pilot cities and regions of ten
countries (Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Japan,
Iceland, Russian Federation, Brazil, Denmark,
Norway), where several interviews and seminars
were conducted during 2018-2019. Moscow was
named such a city from the Russian Federation, and
its mayor Sobyanin S.S. signed an agreement on the
transformation of the development goals of the
capital, as well as on the readiness to submit annual
voluntary reports to the OECD.
Dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Regions of the Russian Federation: Readiness Inspection
For 600 cities and regions of the world that
voluntarily joined the SDGs movement, performance
indicators and three basic directions were developed:
city participation in the national movement (1), a
reflection of SDGs targets in the city/regional plans
(2), use of SDGs as a means of increasing the
responsibility of all interested parties, i.e. both the
authorities and civil society (3).
For Russia, the regional aspect of the
implementation of the SDGs is especially important,
since the country's regions differ significantly in the
specifics of their economic and cultural development,
and, accordingly, they should have different priorities
for sustainability. Having recognized the importance
of 17 goals, the Russian government, however, does
not seek to extend the new attitudes to the middle and
lower management levels. The regions of our country
are, at best, at an intermediate (transitional) stage -
moving towards sustainable development in general,
but many do not implement this either.
We point out, however, that the task of
transitioning regions to sustainable development has
been set. It is fixed in the Concept of The Russian
Federation's Transition to Sustainable Development
(The concept of the transition…, 2018), which is
constantly being edited, although it does not reflect
any special measures to initiate reforms in the
regions. Experts admit that only two cities of the
Russian Federation are fully prepared to implement
the SDGs course: Moscow and St. Petersburg,
although the first and so far the only regional report
on the SDGs, made in the Rostov region, has been
published (Rostov Region).
It should be remembered that the appointment of
Governors by the President dominates in Russia, and
not the elections. Therefore, trying to control the
region, in one form or another they put their proteges,
and not those who will be guided by the needs of the
population. This circumstance is reinforced by the
preservation of centralized budgeting. By transferring
most taxes to the top, lower-level executives do not
have sufficient funds at their disposal. This prevents
them from introducing innovative projects, and also
makes them dependent on higher management.
The dissemination of ideas for sustainable
development is a reflection of the real penetration of
the ideas of the SDGs into the consciousness of the
population. So far, this direction cannot be considered
a part of Russia's national strategy. The country's
government does not track sustainability intentions as
part of its regional policy. To some extent, this is
explained by the fact that the coronavirus epidemic
has temporarily changed priorities.
So, only two cities can join the SDGs
Implementation Program, about 50 cities in one way
or another take into account the ideas of sustainability
when making management decisions, but the majority
are struggling to survive without having financial
resources, and also, not recognizing these goals as
encouraged by the Government and President of the
If the government of the country does not yet
recognize the importance of transforming the
activities of the city (region) in accordance with the
new tasks, the experts are actively involved in
assessing the changes. They have developed and are
implementing several ratings that make it possible to
publicly assess the successes/shortcomings of regions
in areas related to sustainable development, see Table
Table 1: Ranking system of regional development in the direction of sustainability.
Initial data and year of creation Evaluation purpose and indicators
Quality of Life Rating. RIA Rating, 2013,
A comprehensive accounting of indicators that record the
actual state of living conditions of people (72 indicators,
which are combined into 11 groups).
Rating of innovative development of the federal subjects
of the Russian Federation. NRU HSE since 2012,
Indicators characterizing the social and economic conditions
of innovation, scientific and technical potential, the level of
innovation activity, the quality of regional innovation policy.
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
Rating of the state of the investment climate in the
Russian Federation. ASI since 2014
Assesses the efforts of regional authorities to create a
favorable business environment and identifies best practices.
Rating of fundamental (ecological and energy) efficiency.
Interfax-ERA since 2007 (ANO "NERA" until 2010)
Evaluates the work of 5,000 enterprises. Regions are assessed
according to 5 criteria - energy and resource, technological
and ecosystem efficiency, dynamics of efficiency since 2005,
and transparency of business environmental reporting.
Ecological and economic index of regions. WWF Russia
(World Wildlife Fund), 1989, http://new.wwf.ru/
The goal is to calculate a comprehensive indicator of the
ecological and economic index, which adequately reflects the
ecological situation in the regions and the ecological and
economic sustainability of their development; calculated
based on an analysis of environmental, economic and social
It has been compiled by the public organization Green
Patrol since 2008, published 4 times a year
The goal is to carry out public monitoring and carry out a
comparative assessment of the regions in the field of
environmental safety and environmental protection.
Sustainable Urban Development Ranking. Agency SGM
(Sustainable goals Management agency) since 2012,
The goal is to identify leaders and outsiders of sustainable
development of the environment and cities to determine the
potential for growth and improve competitiveness.
Index of Digital Life in Russian Regions. MSM
SKOLKOVO, only 2014 and 2015
The goal is to quantitatively measure the progress of
digitalization in 15 million-strong cities, outlining areas of
possible interaction for business and administrations.
Public infrastructure development index in Russian cities.
The Institute for Regional Studies and Urban Planning of
the Higher School of Economics has been formed since
2017 https://irsup.hse.ru/
The goal is to monitor the current state and formed conditions
for the development of infrastructure, assess the quality of the
city policy in order to prepare recommendations for local
government bodies to improve urban planning.
* The table is compiled on the basis of data from the Institute for Regional Studies, https://irsup.hse.ru/ratingsinfo
Summarizing the information provided, we can
conclude that in Russia, as in many other countries of
the world, a comprehensive and systematic
assessment of the development of regions towards
sustainable development and the SDGs is being
established. Various kinds of expert organizations,
including prestigious scientific (Skolkovo) and
university centers (NRU HSE), mass media (RIA
rating, Interfax-ERA), independent agencies SGM,
public organizations Green Patrol and foundations
(WWW), each in their direction and by their own
methods organize and publish the relevant
Let's describe the results of the ranking of
sustainable development of cities, as our profile topic.
First of all, let us point out the general conclusions of
the experts from AGM, with which we cannot but
agree. The first is their recognition of the importance
of city monitoring both as indicators of development
and as evidence of the authorities' real interest in the
implementation of the SDGs. Second, there are only
two cities in the Russian Federation: Moscow and St.
Petersburg that can really join the global trend. The
third is the closeness (absence) of regional
information. Our analysis of the websites of regional
authorities and the judgments of the experts of AGM
coincide - there is very little information, over the
years of compiling the rankings it does not grow.
Against this background, there is a positive trend in
the growth of openness of information from
enterprises: the market has become an effective driver
of innovation. Fourth, experts point to the forced use
of indirect methods of assessment: a survey of
residents, content analysis of the press, which,
however, cannot replace the data of official regional
statistics, and also enhances the factor of subjective
The experts from AGM, as indicated, did not reveal
on the websites of cities (regions) significant and
obligatory for all indicators characterizing economic
and social development. They were forced to simplify
the assessment system as much as possible, see Table
Dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Regions of the Russian Federation: Readiness Inspection
Table 2: A system of indicators selected by experts to assess the development of regions towards the SDGs.
Indicator name
Natural growth rate, %; migration growth rate, %; demographic load, %; mortality from socially
significant diseases per 100,000 people.
The number of doctors per 10,000 population; the number of nursing staff per 10,000 population;
the number of hospital beds per 10,000 population; the capacity of outpatient clinics per 10,000
The number of those in need of attending preschool institutions in relation to the number of places
in them, %; the number of students in secondary educational institutions per 10,000 population; the
number of university students per 10,000 population; the number of winners of the All-Russian
Olympiad for schoolchildren per 10,000 of the population under working age, %; the number of
computers in schools per 1,000 students; the number of city schools in the TOP-500 rating of the
best schools in Russia; the number of city universities in international academic rankings.
The number of registered crimes per 1,000 population, the number of murders per 1,000 population
housing and
Housing commissioning, m²/person; the share of families waiting in line to improve their living
conditions, %; renovation of the housing stock, %; share of dilapidated housing, %; equipping of
housing with systems of heat, water supply, sewerage, %; average annual output of a heat supply
source, thousand Gcal
The number of trips by 1 person on public transport per year, thousand times; the number of victims
of road traffic accidents per 10,000 populations.
communication Internet users per 1,000 people; the number of connected mobile devices per 1,000 population.
Analysis of the indicators used in the urban
sustainability rating confirms the lack of information.
The presented list is not only quantitatively small, but
it does not meet the requirement of assessing not only
sustainable development but development in general.
On its basis, it is impossible to identify economically
and environmentally leading regions. The authors of
the rating, where they could have inserted facts of the
region's participation in national events, but,
apparently, even these events are not presented on the
website in full.
It is clear that the indicators characterizing
changes in management, on which the OECD
Program is based, is not reflected in the system: there
is no indication of the submission of data by the
region to the Voluntary Report of the Russian
Federation, no data on changes in the planned
indicators of regional development towards
sustainability, there is no possibility of identifying
national initiatives to solve urgent social or
environmental problems in the region, in particular,
the creation of Smart Cities.
Based on the available opportunities, the experts
identified the main clusters of cities: leaders (1),
difficult to assess (2), outsiders (3). This division has
not changed since 2012, which is typical.
Thus, the first cluster includes twenty cities - the
leaders of the ranking. They can be roughly divided
into five groups: capitals (Moscow, St. Petersburg),
the largest cities of the Urals and the Volga region
(Yekaterinburg, Perm, Kazan); dynamically
developing regional centers (Tyumen, Krasnodar,
Stavropol); centers of the oil and gas industry (Surgut,
Nizhnevartovsk, Novy Urengoy); a number of cities
in the Moscow region (Krasnogorsk, Mytishchi,
Domodedovo, Khimki).
The second cluster is made up of cities that
occupy fundamentally different places in different
positions. Experts draw attention to the imbalance in
the regional organization, expressed in the
fundamental difference in the positions of regional
centers and cities on the periphery. The strongest
imbalance is typical for the cities of the Sverdlovsk
region, Orenburg region, and Udmurtia. Their
administrative centers (Yekaterinburg, Orenburg,
Izhevsk) are in the TOP-50 cities of the ranking, and
smaller cities in these regions (Nizhny Tagil,
Pervouralsk, Serov, Orsk, Sarapul) are located at the
bottom of the ranking.
Twenty cities that took the lowest positions in the
ranking included mono-cities of the Urals and
Western Siberia (Prokopyevsk, Kiselevsk, Leninsk-
Kuznetskiy, Pervouralsk, Nizhniy Tagil, etc.), as well
as Crimea and the North Caucasus (Khasavyurt,
Feodosiya, Yalta).
The experts from AGM came to the following
general conclusions, with which one cannot but agree.
Their constant analysis of changes in the position of
cities in the ranking of sustainable development
shows that the positions of the majority of cities
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
(87%) change insignificantly, i.e. that only the
authorities of 13% of cities reflected on the
sustainability course (SDGs). At the same time, their
analysis of the dynamics of the ranking results over
several years showed that the more balanced a city is
in terms of economic, social and environmental
development, the more steadily it develops during an
economic downturn and has a higher development
potential during a period of economic growth in
The Russian Federation as a whole has fulfilled its
obligations to the UN, having presented the
Voluntary National Review of the Achievement of
the Sustainable Development Goals of the Russian
Federation in July 2020, for which it received
corresponding public recognition. At the same time,
our analysis of the websites did not reveal any
significant changes in the management of regions in
order to reorient them to new goals. The country is
implementing the Concept of the transition of the
Russian Federation to sustainable development
(1998), which is regularly edited. The lack of
legislative consolidation of the SDGs by the
government of the country predetermines the fact that
the regions do not seek to restructure their activities,
which experts note.
The absence of not only regional reports on
sustainable development, but also the absence of
information (formatted according to a unified
methodology) on their own websites indicates both a
low level of information transparency and an
underdeveloped accountability system in the country.
There are no reports and places occupied by the
region in the ratings; therefore, the population does
not have objective information for choosing leaders.
Experts of the Russian Federation, representing
the scientific community in different types of
organizations, are ready to organize monitoring of the
region, but a serious obstacle to their work is the lack
of information on the indicators of their development.
It seems that the statistics committee should develop
a system of mandatory reporting, and think over both
a unified methodology for their measurement and the
development of the system in order to gradually move
from a general assessment of the sustainability of the
region's development to a more detailed system of
parameters that allow assessing the implementation
of the SDGs, including improving the management
system taking into account the recommendations of
the OECD.
At the moment, Russia has really confirmed its
readiness to follow the path of the SDGs by
submitting a Voluntary National Report to the UN.
We'd most like the next report to reflect not only the
country's successes but also problems, including
shortcomings in regional politics.
Assessing positively the work of the experts, we
would like, on the one hand, to invite them to compile
a ranking of Smart cities, as well as to take into
account the number of such cities in the general
regional reporting. At the same time, we would like
to advise to expand the ranking of the evaluated
criteria as potentially possible, based on the
Recommendations of the OECD and scientists. The
data may not yet be available, but regional specialists
will see their future landmarks.
The transition to free elections of mayors and
governors will not only increase the degree of
democratization of governance in the country, but
also make the policy focused on the population and
not on senior management
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