Let the work begin! The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a Global Initiative of the United Nations, has released a guidebook “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) to help all stakeholders understand and implement the Post-2015 development agenda. The year 2016 marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the official launch of the Post-2015 SDGs to be achieved by year 2030. Listed below are key takeaways from the guidebook on how to embark on this collective agenda efficiently:
1. Execute Goal-Based Planning
Having a goal and target framework like the SDGs is beneficial because it provides a shared narrative of the complex, yet important challenges that must be addressed and understood. For example, the guidebook explains that evidence from the MDGs dealing with public health shows that communities were able to mobilize around time-bound goals.
“The shared focus on time-bound quantitative goals will spur greater mobilization, promote innovation, and strengthen collaboration within epistemic communities or networks of expertise and practice.” (Getting Started with the SDGs, pg. 9)
2. Implement Locally-Focused Development
For the SDGs to be implemented at the local level, local authorities and communities must take responsibility for leading initiatives. For example The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy unites 5,000 to 15,000 people in a cluster of villages to create an “epicenter” where communities are mobilized to lead their own initiatives around their basic needs.
“A bottom-up approach can be successful in achieving transformational sustainable pathways through direct contact with communities, which informs national-level policy decisions” (Getting Started with the SDGs, pg.11)
To learn more about these strategies and alike, check out the Movement for Community-Led Development that was recently launched at a side event for the 70th Session of the UN’s General Assembly.
3. Prioritize the implementation of the SDGs
These 17 audacious, yet achievable goals and 169 targets provide a framework for future development initiatives. As a side note the UN’s Inter-agency Expert Group (IAEG) on SDG Indicators plans to confirm most indicators for the 169 targets by March 2016 for use by Member States and development actors. The Hunger Project and its advocacy partners such as CONCERN, World Vision, Save the Children and Action Against Hunger have been advocating for specific indicators to accurately measure community advancements in nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Given this feat, stakeholders should take stock of where their respective country, sector, or community stands in regard to the 17 SDGs. As shown in Table 1 below The Global Reporting Initiative, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Global Compact has developed a set of key performance indicators with which businesses, as well as, civil society, faith-based groups,and knowledge institutions can utilize to determine their contribution to each of the 17 SDGs.
“A quick ‘temperature check’ of the key dimensions of sustainable development, including economic development, social inclusion, and sustainable environmental management, can help develop a shared understanding of priorities for implementation.” (Getting Started with the SDGs, pg. 13)
Table 1: Indicators for a quick assessment of a country or region’s starting position with regards to sustainable development
4. Prepare to Monitor Progress on SDGs and Strengthen Statistical Systems
The SDGs cover a wide range of cross-sector challenges which present a need for demographic, economic, social, and environmental data. For data to be useful in influencing policy and decision-making, it must be timely. Table 2 depicts key data sources for monitoring the SDGs to build and modernize the statistical systems that capture the data.
“As one impressive example [of geo-referenced data], the Nigerian Senior Special Advisor to the President on the MDGs, with support from the Earth Institute’s Sustainable Engineering Laboratory, developed the Nigeria MDG Information System, an online interactive data platform. Using this system, all government health and education facilities as well as water access points were mapped across Nigeria within a mere two months” (Getting Started with the SDGs, pg. 28)
Table 2. A toolkit of data instruments for monitoring the SDGS
5. Build Goal-Based Public-Private Partnerships
Evidence from the MDGs suggests that a diverse range of partnerships can emerge from international collaboration such as bilateral partnerships between states and combinations of public, private, and multilateral actors. It is key to note that effective partnerships are not centrally planned and they do not require one actor to oversee all operations. Each sector has a variety of capabilities, therefore the partnerships will vary depending on the engagement. To that regard, Figure 2 illustrates seven core processes identified by the SDSN that depicts the basis of goal-based partnerships.
“As outlined in the document Goal-based Investment Partnerships: Lessons for the Addis FfD Conference[3.14], each sector has unique features and requirements for success, so there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to building global public-private partnerships.” (Getting Started with the SDGs, pg. 29)
Figure 2. Core components of goal-based partnerships
Great progress has been achieved through the MDGs, however much more has to be done. Now in the era of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals there is a call for more innovate approaches to finishing the fight “…for people, prosperity and the planet” by 2030. This is a call for building the capacity within local communities to transform the world we live in, from within, starting with the strategies in these takeaways.