Case study: Roadmap for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Republic of San Marino


Achieving synergy in a country of 30 000 inhabitants is possible: building dialogue among its different governmental departments – all with  apparently different goals – is the starting point. In the Republic of San Marino, implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for  Sustainable Development is in full swing with the involvement of all sectors of society in a whole-of government, whole-of-society approach  to achieving the global vision of sustainable development.


San Marino is situated between the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche. Covering a total area of 61 km2, the country has a population of approximately 33 000. With the involvement of all levels of society, San Marino has taken significant steps to align its policies with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is illustrated in the Second National Health Plan of San Marino (2015–2017), which is based on the objectives of “Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being”, and oriented towards achievement of the SDGs.

WHO “Roadmap to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, building on Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being”

To assist Member States in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the WHO Regional Office for Europe has developed a roadmap, building on Health 2020. This roadmap aims to strengthen the countries’ capacities for working in a transformative way to implement a set of coherent, evidence-informed policies on health and well-being by addressing health and social determinants throughout the life-course and across all sectors of government and society. The roadmap proposes six interdependent strategic directions and four enabling measures designed to advance the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and Health 2020.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in San Marino

Some of the strategies and initiatives that San Marino has put in place to facilitate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are illustrated below.

- Advancing governance and leadership for health and well-being: the Intersectoral Board for Achievement of the 17 UN SDGs

In October 2017, the San Marino Government set up the Intersectoral Board for Achievement of the 17 UN SDGs, involving all departments, with the aim of developing common strategies and policies based on a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. Since then, the Board has been working to map the projects and activities that were set in motion, evaluate their progress, and provide further input and support where needed. This process provided a clear overview of activities and initiatives (whether already implemented or currently underway) in line with the 2030 Agenda. It also contributed to strengthening the network of associations and local communities responsible for them.

- Establishing healthy places, settings and resilient communities: the Intersectoral Working Group on Health and Education

This working group was established in 2013 to systemize an approach to health education, using a life-course perspective. The aim was to provide a healthy, sustainable and safe school environment. The working group is currently supporting several education-related projects in the fields of environment, health, multiculturalism and peace, all of which are in line with the 2030 Agenda. The projects, which involve students, their families and the community, encourage the development of citizenship skills based on policies to promote health education from early childhood.

- Leaving no one behind: the Intersectoral Working Group on Promoting the Social Role of Older People

As a result of a governmental resolution passed in March 2018, this working group, which operates at the family and societal levels, was established to coordinate San Marino’s comprehensive strategies for and interventions related to the older population. It integrates the activities of public, private and voluntary resources to implement policies that:

  • support the self-sufficiency of older people and safeguard their role as an active community resource;
  • assure home care for and the comprehensive protection of older people who are not self-sufficient.

- Strengthening healthy and sustainable environments: the new General Town Planning Scheme and sustainable tourism

Rapid urbanization in the world has led to enormous challenges, including increased air pollution, inadequate infrastructures and basic services, and unplanned urban sprawl, which have impaired the safety and health of cities. Despite its small territory, San Marino has also felt the effects of uncontrolled urbanization. Its new General Town Planning Scheme represents a government strategy for promoting healthy planning and sustainable urban and peri-urban areas to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the country and preserve its biodiversity. This ambitious strategy aims to create, by 2030, a network of footpaths and cycling routes and achieve excellence at the European level in the field of sustainable mobility.

A Working Group on Road Safety has been set up to contribute to the design of a new sustainable mobility system, including interventions crucial to the improvement of the main roads in San Marino.

In 2010, San Marino established the project, “San Marino for all”. Thanks to the involvement of sports and cultural associations in the field of disability, and the support of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Territory, the Ministry of Tourism and the Township Council of the City of San Marino, several initiatives have been launched to enhance sustainable, inclusive and accessible tourism.

- Workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals in the Republic of San Marino. How to implement a roadmap, 23 April 2018.

Organized by the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development, Venice, Italy, and coordinated by Dr Bettina Menne, Coordinator, Health and Development, WHO Regional Office for Europe, the workshop provided an opportunity for dialogue and exchange on how to implement the 2030 Agenda and strengthen institutional governance and technical skills. Politicians, technical experts and representatives of civil society in San Marino took part. The workshop afforded San Marino the first opportunity to discuss and report on progress made in the country towards achievement of the SDGs, and to seek technical assistance in:

  • analysing the coherence of current San Marinese policies with the 2030 Agenda;
  • identifying SDGs that are directly and indirectly related to health, and strategies for achieving them;
  • defining indicators and monitoring tools;
  • deciding accountability and enabling measures (ways of managing implementation mechanisms and promote the progressive alignment of health and development policies or plans).

The presence of the following elements in San Marino’s approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda summarize its path to success:

  • a strong political vision oriented to the achievement of the SDGs;
  • intersectoral governance and planning strategies, and institutional boards, such as that “for the achievement of the 17 UN SDGs”;
  • thematic expert working groups aligned with the 2030 Agenda;
  • a strong connection between governmental departments and grassroot organizations and community associations, combining institutional and bottom-up initiatives;
  • dialogue and exchange with WHO experts for technical assistance.

Voluntary national reviews

As part of its follow-up on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations encourages Member States to "conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven".

These voluntary national reviews aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including success stories, challenges met, and lessons learnt, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They seek to strengthen government policies and institutions and mobilize multistakeholder support and partnerships towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

San Marino plans to present its voluntary national review to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2019.

As Franco Santi, Minister of Health of the Republic of San Marino, affirmed in his speech at the Fifth high-level meeting of the small countries (Reykjavík, Iceland, 26–27 June 2018):

“Changing mentality, lifestyle and approach is a priority. Sustainable development is not an option, it is the only option. We must convince finance ministers that to consolidate public finances we need to invest not only economic, but also human resources in policy measures capable of empowering individuals and communities, ensuring inclusiveness and equality.  I believe that our recent investments and our intersectoral networks represent a fundamental added value for putting these policies into practice and building together a virtuous model of sustainable development from which everyone will benefit”.