Opportunities
Responsibilities
Extended session

In September 2015, the world’s governments adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With its comparative advantages of patient, risk-tolerant, and nimble capital, philanthropy has an important role to play in influencing and shaping the implementation of the SDGs. What is the strategic opportunity presented by the SDGs and how is philanthropy contributing to bridging the global and local levels, mobilising and building local commitment and capacity and improving data and monitoring? The session will explore these questions through three parallel roundtables featuring emerging collaborative initiatives around the goals and targets that relate to sustainable urban development and to advancing children’s well-being.

Key points raised by speakers and during discussion

Setting the stage

There are four things to note about the SDGs: they are universal, comprehensive – encompass economic, social and environmental goals; consultative – in the design and implementation, and have a $4 trillion price tag.

Foundations work in all areas addressed by the SDGs; certain dimensions resonate particularly well with philanthropy, such as “leave no one behind” and fight inequality. The SDGs represent a framework for foundations to position and measure the impact of their work against this first-ever global agreement for a more equitable and sustainable future, a set of opportunities to push the boundaries of how we work to tackle complex and interconnected challenges towards more systemic and longer-term focused approaches and to ensure – through their support for civil society – that governments are held accountable.

The SDGs are changing how governments think about their role and how they work. The Dutch government representative highlighted some of the changes in how they work: they are using this universal framework to define and sharpen priorities both domestically and for their international engagement, they are committed to an inclusive and consultative process in doing so, and are co-developing mechanisms with key other stakeholders including philanthropic actors to promote and enable partnerships and joint learning. 

The SDGs help break down siloes across sectors and across actors around a common framework and language that is universal. They create a legitimate call to action for all sectors, including philanthropy, and can bring philanthropy into national and sub-national development processes. They provide an opportunity for the intellectual fire-power that exists at the local level to inform and drive innovation and solutions across different parts of the world.

Peace, the prevention of all forms of violence and strong and accountable institutions are fundamental to achieving the vision articulated in the 2030 development agenda, which is reflected in the adoption of a specific SDG on this. It is necessary to go further than just measuring peace and to invest in building the attitudes, institutions and structures which sustain peace – globally.

Children’s well-being and SDGs

The SDGs have completely left out institutionalised and homeless children. Family planning is the only time family was included in the framework due to the different definitions used by various cultures. There is no recognition of child development. The silos of child development must be broken and there is the opportunity to do this.

Child protection is absent from both SDGs and MDGs but violence is included in the human development agenda, albeit not very high. It is niche and underfinanced because people believe violence is inevitable. Research has proved this wrong however. By working on this issue a marginalised issue is being raised up.

A global movement on children’s well-being is taking shape but it must be ensured that goals are not looked at separately. The four main priorities for child development are home, education, health and family income. Foundations need to understand which goals align with these priorities, and how to leverage the SDGs to advance a holistic and integrated approach to child well-being across the entire lifecycle.

Sustainable cities and the SDGs

Cities are present across the SDGs and they are crucial to accomplish them: 122 indicators are related to urban agendas that means 65% of the indicators. Population is growing worldwide and 65%of the population will be living in cities – it needs to be taken into account that smaller cities/local stakeholders will have a lower capacity to respond these challenges. Cities need to capitalise what has already been done. It is essential to take into account urbanisation challenges that cities are struggling with as the problems they face may become regional and then global. What happens when the social and economic profile of large cities differs significantly from the rest of the country? Can the SDG framework help lift up both cities and regions – or is there a danger of increasing gaps across different cities/regions?

Foundations have an important role to play ensuring that no one is left behind and the inclusion and participation of all concerned in shaping urban planning and urban development initiatives.

SDGs offer a framework for foundations to take a more systemic view of how they invest in cities or regions, they also enable foundations to position their work on social, economic, political inequalities in cities against a universal framework, and can thus facilitate comparability and potential to transfer know-how and solutions.

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