Ensuring no one is left behind is the overarching principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achieving that goal entails taking bold and accelerated actions to end extreme poverty, curb inequalities, confront discrimination and fast-track progress for those who endure disadvantages or deprivations that limit their choices and opportunities relative to others in society. Local governance plays a fundamental role in ensuring social inclusion, as frontline responder and executor of collective local action processes and crisis recovery. Innovation, including emerging technologies and the digital social realm, can be a powerful tool when used for and by people in vulnerable situations, overcoming otherwise limited access, reach and participation. At the same time, it can further marginalize vulnerable people and reinforce already wide social divides. The recent COVID-19 pandemic crisis has been a huge stumbling block in the achievement of social inclusion for the poor and marginalized populations, resulting in a significant setback and deeply affecting economic and social opportunities. The human and economic costs of the pandemic have been unparalleled. The pandemic also slowed the transition to greener, more inclusive economies and delayed progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This handbook focuses on promoting and harnessing innovation to foster social inclusion of people in vulnerable situations and the principle of leaving no one behind for local governance. It introduces innovative approaches, strategies, practices, and tools and people-centred actions to mitigate social vulnerabilities and achieve the SDGs.