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Brainstorming Challenges and Opportunities towards the SDGs

If participants know their city already well, try this method and brainstorm challenges and opportunities for development in your city. Through their knowledge, you can quickly detect which issues are the most pressing in your community. This analysis helps to find out in which areas future projects can be located.


Identify challenges and opportunities for urban action in your city and connect them to the SDGs.


Step 1: Invite all participants from your workshop to think about the following questions and to write their answers on cards of different colours (up to 5 challenges and up to 5 opportunities, with only one issue per card):

  • What are the most pressing issues that need to be solved in your city?
  • What are existing opportunities that could to be explored?

Step 2: Each participant briefly lists his/her issues, and one facilitator in the group clusters the issues along similar/common categories.

Step 3: Now, participants can prioritise issues by using dots (e.g. each participant gets two dots and chooses along the cluster issues).

Step 4: From the list of prioritised challenges and opportunities, participants are now asked to define the SDGs that relate to the issues at hand (it can be more than one). If relevant, participants can also try to relate the measures to mitigation of greenhouse gases, adaptation to climate change or disaster risk reduction. Feel free to use the existing template for this step.



Pin boards, cards, pins, markers; dots for prioritisation; Template for Step 4



  • If time is limited for working with the matrix, the analysis can focus only on the SDGs. These can be added to the cards that name the challenges and opportunities.
  • This exercise is ideal when different cities are participating. However, it is also possible to apply it for only one city. In this case try to form 2 to 4 groups of participants to allow for some discussion.
  • Ideally the group should be composed of experts from different city departments (planning, finance, mobility, education, health, public works, etc.) as well as different stakeholders (civil society, academia, NGOs etc.).


1 hour


Visualisation and prioritisation of challenges and opportunities for action