We asked our Network about what they’ve been doing during UN Week and here is what we found out!

Melissa Blackerby from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors writes about the event SDG Philanthropy Platform hosted during the Opening Week of UNGA to facilitate multi-sector partnerships


Making connections and sharing knowledge are key if we are to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. At the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, the SDG Philanthropy Platform convened leaders across sectors for multiple events to highlight philanthropy’s role in the SDGs, report on implementation progress in the Platform’s target countries, and facilitate partnerships.

At the opening of the first event, Heather Grady, Vice President of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, discussed the importance of bringing partners together for collaboration opportunities; “We believe that meetings like this are about making connections and sharing knowledge so we can achieve the SDGs. Participants in the room hold a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

Over three days, people from many different backgrounds and sectors shared their experiences and progress from their respective regions and other Platform target countries. Many participants had a chance to connect with others doing similar work in the same countries, opening the door for them to discuss relevant issues and potential partnership opportunities.

One common theme that emerged from the events was the importance of cross-sector collaboration in identifying gaps to close and developing solutions. As more stakeholders from diverse backgrounds join the conversation on SDG implementation, new perspectives can help shed light on effective methods of addressing the world’s most pressing issues.

From speakers’ experiences, one lesson is clear – we will not be able to achieve the SDGs if we continue with business as usual. We as a global community must work together and take innovative new approaches to solve the problems identified by the 17 goals. As Lauren Whitehead, Program Manager at BRAC, emphasized, “Ambitious goals like the SDGs require ambitious measures.”

RPA launched a report this week looking at how funders can work differently to shift systems in ways that enable faster, deeper achievement of goals like the SDGs. Entitled Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems, it represents a snapshot of the learning journey of a group of funders committed to working more collaboratively, and presents a set of five recommendations for any interested funder to consider. The report is available for download here.

To learn more about the SDG Philanthropy Platform and how to get involved in SDG implementation, visit sdgphilanthropy.org.

Originally published on rockpa.org.

Karolina Mzyk from the UNDP and Jonah Wittkamper from NEXUS have also shared their comments on the UN Week with us – Check it out!

Jointly with partners, SDG PP / we were delighted to welcome over 300 foundations, philanthropists, government and UN representatives, CSO and practitioners – all of whom came together with the common goal of further advancing collaboration on the SDGs. The diversity of attendees underscored the importance of partnerships in developing and scaling transformative solutions to achieve the Goals. Here are some of the key trends we spotted.

  • Local vs. Global – the Goals offer a global vision of inclusive globalization and a pragmatic roadmap for collaboration in achieving it. During this year UNGA, the conversation has clearly shifted towards local implementation and local insights.
  • The role of the private sector came up repeatedly. It would be naïve to expect that business or governments alone can deliver on the better world envisioned by the SDGs. Philanthropy has a crucial role to play in integrating pathways for collaboration between the public and private. A great example comes from Kenya, where SDGPP and other UN partners have convened private companies, the Kenya government and NGOs to develop a partnership to achieve Kenya’s primary health targets.
  • The SDG as a framework for grantmaking, business strategy, and development plans. This was an interesting idea – the SDGs are not just static goals on paper, they should be integrated and fitted to philanthropy’s programs and plans.
  • A key challenge that I spotted was that although SDGs require a holistic “whole of society” approach of breaking siloes and moving away from themes and issues based thinking, foundations are operating on theme based models. How to reconcile? There were few fabulous examples, such as the collective project of 17 foundations in Antioquia who jointly agreed that investing in acess to clean water would accelerate achieving of the SDGs in this impoverished region in Colombia and they are collaborating on that outcome, facilitated by AFE.  Karolina Mzyk, UNDP


Last year (2016), upon receiving news that the Clinton Global Initiative had convened its last annual meeting in New York, I teamed up with Eileen Fisher and a group of philanthropists and donor associations to explore the idea of using UN week in NYC as a convening opportunity to help propagate the culture and infrastructure of philanthropy around the world.  The results of the meeting led to this report and to a session on Global Philanthropy at the 2017 Concordia Summit. The session featured presenters from Filantropi Indonesia, the Fetzer Institute and NEXUS. It examined the question of what inspires philanthropy among individuals and what facilitates the development of donors institutions at national levels.  These efforts represent one step of a longer term goal to advance a UN General Assembly Resolution to encourage more philanthropy globally. Jonah Wittkamper, NEXUS




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