RallyRound InBrief – A grand plan for a better world

RallyRound InBrief delivers snapshots on topical issues and news relevant to the community foundation sector

UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have profound implications for all sectors

On the 25th September last year the United Nations formally adopted Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This Agenda represents an ambitious plan to address global challenges, such as poverty, and ‘to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path’. Importantly, the Agenda is a universal one which clearly articulates an expectation that ‘all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan’ and it recognises that success will be dependent upon a willingness to ‘take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed’.

The Agenda identifies 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs (see below) each of which has specific targets that will need to be achieved over the next 15 years for the Action plan to be successfully enacted.

This month, the UN launched the The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 which, by delivering an overview of the SDGs using current data, tells the story of where the world is at the beginning of its 15 year journey. The story that emerges from the pages of the report is, unsurprisingly, not a particularly comforting one, and serves to demonstrate the enormous challenges ahead; around one in eight people live in extreme poverty, nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger and access to water is an issue that affects more than 2 billion people.

The report also underscores the importance (and the challenge) of data in the tracking of progress towards the SDGs. Underpinning the goals are a multiplicity of statistical indicators and measures which will need to be extrapolated at a national level and then a global one.

Why is this relevant to community foundations?
Most, if not all, of the SDGs will resonate with community foundations as they echo, at a global level, the challenges that we are dealing with in our own communities. It is to be hoped that the massive collective action framework that the SDGs represent, will lead to an unprecedented sharing of knowledge as to how others are dealing with these issues around the world; what is working and what is not. Community foundations can leverage this knowledge within their own catchments.

UN member states, which includes Australia, will be expected to use the SDGs as a constant touchstone. This presents community foundations with a platform to engage with government and other sectors around a common agenda and ensure they are aware of, and can support, the unique role community foundations play. The SDGs will create opportunities for collaboration which community foundations can become active participants in.

In its recent report, From Global Goals to Local Impact, the US Council on Foundations emphasises the constructive role philanthropy can and should play in the multi sector effort that will be required to meet the SDGs. Community foundations are well placed, with their connection to community and local knowledge, to facilitate and translate these ambitious global goals into meaningful local action.

The SDG Philanthropy Platform is an initiative of the United Nations Development Program, Foundation Centre and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers which aims to connect and encourage collaboration between philanthropy, the UN, governments, the private sector and NGOs. The website includes a dashboard of indicators, information on funders and knowledge hub with reports, background papers and and case studies and briefings.

The 17 SDGs are:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development


Register now for the National Community Foundations Forum. This year’s theme – Building Resilience Through Innovation and Collaboration – focuses on how the community foundation sector can evolve and adapt in order to thrive in a challenging and changing environment. For all the latest program details go here.