The Importance of the SDG framework in informing the work of civil society

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a crucial framework adopted to address some of the worlds most pressing development dilemmas. The SDGs, which expanded upon the priorities highlighted in the Millennium Development Goals, identify 17 specific goals that would result in a more sustainable world if achieved by 2030. For example, the ambitious set of goals include No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Climate Action, to name a few, as key areas for achieving a more sustainable and equitable global society. While the SDG framework is certainly crucial in its establishment of both goals and indicators, the SDG framework has also been extremely influential in shaping the way governments, civil society, and individuals understand the field of development generally.

In my own internship experience, I have seen firsthand the capacity that the Sustainable Development Goal Framework has in not only serving as an action plan for development, but also in focusing the efforts of actors across sectors and focus areas. At EcoAgriculture Partners. where I currently serve as communications intern, we work to reduce hunger, increase agricultural production, improve rural people’s lives and conserve biodiversity using an innovative whole landscape approach. At EcoAgriculture Partners, I had the opportunity to attend a roundtable discussion hosted by the organization in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Entitled Advancing Integrated Landscape Strategies for the SDGs, the roundtable discussion brought together professionals working across sectors of conservation, sustainable agriculture, and development to discuss the opportunities for furthering integrated landscape approaches through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal framework. The roundtable discussion highlighted the ways in which the SDG framework can serve a variety of functions. For some attending the discussion, the SDG framework proved useful in providing a monitoring framework for their own initiatives. Others saw the SDGs as valuable for contextualizing their initiatives within the realm of policy advocacy. In addition to this, panelists at the discussion underscored the way in which the SDG framework can be useful in expanding cooperation to un-silo efforts within individual organizations while also serving as a common language for encouraging private sector partnerships.