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Purpose

Building public awareness and engaging national, sub-national and local stakeholders in The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs is a critical initial and ongoing step in successful implementation. Beyond awareness, achieving a similar level of understanding among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders is critical. This means reaching out to all levels and sectors with information that is tailored to their specific functions, roles, and responsibilities.

A clear understanding of the benefits of aligning national and sub-national plans and policy-making processes with The 2030 Agenda and SDGs as well as building ownership for it among people, including the marginalised, provides the foundation for its real and lasting delivery. Done well, this step can enhance the impact of all other guidance areas in this note (B2 through B9), and ultimately, the impact of the agenda itself. Given that the SDGs are a global agenda, it is critical to support national audiences in linking them to local concerns, thus helping to ensure sustainable public support for the SDGs.

Guidance

Member States can begin building public awareness on The 2030 Agenda and SDGs as an opportunity to promote an existing or forthcoming national development strategy or plan and to display its intentions to be part of the global partnership to make progress toward the SDGs in their national, sub-national and local contexts.

A foundation for any effort in raising the public awareness of The 2030 Agenda is its universal and integrated nature – connecting the global and local, leaving no one behind, promoting human rights and gender equality, and addressing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

To assist Member States in building awareness of the profound importance of The 2030 Agenda and SDGs, a parallel and multi-pronged approach can be facilitated by UNCTs, possibly led by their country communications groups, including:

  • An introductory workshop series: to sensitize government officials and stakeholders to The 2030 Agenda and SDGs (and to review national development plans for their alignment with the SDGs – see Section B3);
  • A public awareness campaign: to communicate The 2030 Agenda and SDGs to the general public, including women, children, youth, and others as applicable, such as internally displaced persons, and non-nationals such as refugees and stateless persons; and
  • Opportunity management: to leverage other government and UN-sponsored meetings and forums to sensitize government officials and stakeholders to The 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

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MDG Lessons Learned in Advocacy and Awareness Raising

  1. Advocacy and awareness raising is a strategic activity that needs to be adapted to the country context, well planned, and adequately resourced. Countries such as Bangladesh, Albania, Honduras, and Kenya (amongst many others) have developed detailed advocacy strategies that consider carefully who to reach, why they are important to communicate with, and various means to do it. As such, they have been particularly effective in mobilizing communities around the MDGs and informing them about the Goals. Furthermore, these efforts have usually been done through the UN Resident Coordinator’s office in partnership with members of the UNCT. This is a particularly effective way to draw upon the expertise of the entire UNCT, and distribute the cost and effort of organizing the advocacy initiatives.
  2. Sub-national advocacy and awareness campaigns in a particular area are a powerful means for engaging communities in Localization processes. Albania provides a unique example whereby local landmarks, renowned personalities, songs, imagery, and other aspects of the region were used in advocacy materials to make the MDGs relevant to the local reality in order to promote participation in the formulation of an MDG-based local development strategy.
  3. Marginalized communities such as women, youth, internally displaced persons, non-nationals such as refugees and stateless persons, and minorities may need unique advocacy approaches to ensure that the messages reach them and are relevant.
  4. Evaluating the results of advocacy campaigns is essential, though not frequently done. Activities should be evaluated to see if they are successful in providing information or changing behavior.
  5. Choosing the medium for the message is crucial to ensure that the target audiences can receive the information. Exclusive means such as the Internet are often not conducive to usage at the sub-national level, whereas live events, printed material (with imagery and text), and radio may be more useful.
  6. The private sector can assist with promotion and advocacy through their product and service distribution channels.

Source: UNDP (2007).

Building public awareness should be understood as a first step towards a participatory process in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Genuine participation and access to information are cornerstones of empowerment; participation having many instrumental gains as a result of using local knowledge, exposing local preferences, raising resource allocation efficiency, and maximizing ownership and sustainability of development. Consequently, awareness raising efforts should be participatory processes, which are critically assessed, to see whether they:

  • Reflect minimum standards for the process, which should be agreed on by all participants;
  • Operate at all stages, including the design, implementation and monitoring of development strategies;
  • Include women and marginalized groups and develop specific channels of participation if this is necessary;
  • Prevent elite capture and reinforcement of existing social hierarchies and power relations;
  • Are transparent and provide sufficient and accessible information;
  • Provide accountability mechanisms to ensure that the participatory process is held to these standards. (OHCHR 2008)

Introductory Workshop Series on The 2030 Agenda and SDGs

UNITAR has prepared a Post-2015 National Briefing Package entitled ‘Preparing for Action’. This package consists of a series of interactive workshop training modules and is ideal for sensitizing national government officials and stakeholders to The 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

The starting point for UNCTs is to meet with the Member State government ministry that participated directly in the Post-2015 process to determine how much awareness raising has already occurred. A series of Introductory Workshops can then be planned accordingly. A comprehensive Introductory Workshop Series to sensitize government officials, civil society organizations, including women’s organizations, businesses and other stakeholder groups to the structure and content of The 2030 Agenda and SDGs could include the following phases:

Phase 1: Introductory workshop with the government agency(s) responsible for national development planning and national statistics. Working with these agencies, other workshops can be planned, including:

Phase 2: Introductory workshop with remaining national government departments and other national stakeholders. To foster increased national ownership, the participants of the first phase might be facilitators or presenters for the second and third phases; and

Phase 3: Introductory workshops in the capital cities of the sub-national governments (inviting the sub-national government, city government, local businesses, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples groups, and persons affected by displacement, statelessness or living through complex emergencies).

The introductory workshop process will also allow for stakeholders to define the context and how they envision the SDGs being realised within their country.  This is particularly important within a humanitarian or conflict/post-conflict context.  The selection of stakeholders in all instances must be carefully managed to ensure real representation of all sectors of the population and government, not just the line ministries and favored individuals (see Section B2 on Applying Multi-stakeholder Approaches).

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Innovative Case Example: UNITAR’s National Post-2015 Development Agenda Briefing Package in Uganda

The Ugandan government was the first in piloting this briefing package in Kampala, together with the UN Country Team and two training experts from UNITAR. The event unfolded over two days and was led by the government and facilitated by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; and the National Planning Authority. Experts from UNDP and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) also contributed to facilitation by presenting a global perspective on the evolving issues of global partnership, financing for development, review, follow-up, and SDG synergies.

The exercise highlighted how the government of Uganda has already made significant progress in integrating the proposed SDGs into national planning. Specifically, the proposed National Development Plan II (NDPII) already includes many of the SDGs and a significant portion of the proposed targets have been adjusted to the national context.

Public Awareness Campaign on The 2030 Agenda and SDGs

The mass outreach and marketing of sustainable development concepts and agendas has been one of the critical weaknesses of efforts since the 1992 Earth Summit. While sustainable development has entered the vocabulary of experts and the interested public, the terminology and concept has yet to fully permeate the general public and political discourse. Given today’s Internet and social media platforms, combined with traditional media, as well as the outreach capacity of civil society organizations and volunteer groups, there are more avenues than ever to reach the general public. These are particularly relevant to reach younger audiences, whose members will be both key actors as well as the inheritors of the world the SDGs seek to create.

Awareness-raising is a continuous process. Specific outreach initiatives should occur with the scope, frequency, and objective varying from country to country. A first wave can sensitise the public regarding the SDGs overall, and what they mean for the nation in the context of its existing development vision and plan.  It is important to note that public awareness of the SDGs within a country should be done in the context of the country’s national development vision and plan, so as to be clear that it is a nationally-owned process. A second wave could be more specifically linked to the nationally adapted SDGs with national targets and timelines (see Section B3).

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MDG Lessons: Brazil’s Experience with the MDGs

Capacity to understand the goals should be added to the capacities necessary to effectively localize an international agenda. This is also supported by UNDP’s engagement on the MDGs in Brazil. In Brazil, the MDGs were used as a framework to form a pro-MDG movement by unifying diverse CSOs, private companies, Government officials and citizens around a common goal. For this to succeed, awareness was raised on how the MDGs apply to Brazil and the fact that their outcome depends on local, not international, action.

The experience in Brazil reveals a few important lessons on awareness raising for the MDGs, such as: early engagement of partners can increase commitment and meaningful collaboration; an MDG campaign may require distinct phases of education and advocacy to build the necessary foundations for action; and monitoring development progress can fuel MDG advocacy by providing evidence of needs, inequalities and successful policies.

With assistance from UNCTs, Member states could work to increase public awareness of their existing national development strategy/plan, while at the same time marketing The 2030 Agenda and SDGs to the general public and how local and regional governments (LRGs), businesses and civil society organizations (CSOs) can be part of a national and global partnership.

A work plan could be developed for a sustained media outreach campaign utilizing traditional avenues (i.e., TV, Radio, newsprint) and Internet and social media platforms to communicate the salient aspects of the country’s national development plan and how, through achieving and improving its own plan, it will contribute towards progress of The 2030 Agenda globally.

This aspect provides a space for considerable creativity and innovation. For example, Uganda has ‘goal ambassadors’ to raise public awareness, with a Nobel Laureate representing Goal #16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Other examples of creativity in Uganda include illustrating the alignment of the SDGs to the Ugandan national anthem, use of the UNICEF U-report process and an SDG-Journey publication, and asking the president to wear a Goal#16 t-shirt on peace, justice and strong institutions. Also, training of local media on reporting on SDGs was undertaken and in this regard, reporters will be supported to open a media platform on SDGs, but also to prepare investigative pieces on relevant topics.

As a further illustration, consider the case of Colombia where a Mayors online training course was developed in collaboration with UNITAR. This course was inundated by 2000 applications, providing leaders with the opportunity to talk about the relevance of the various SDGs. Also, in Belarus the UN70 Express Train for SDGs provided a unique exercise to engage broad groups of people from different backgrounds into an open conversation about their priorities and specific challenges (see Innovative Case Example below).

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Innovative Case Example: The UN70 Belarus Express Train for SDGs

The UN in Belarus, in collaboration with the Government has recently organized an initiative called the UN70 Belarus Express for SDGs – a train that traveled around the country in October 2015 visiting seven regional cities with a goal to raise awareness about SDGs and foster a dialogue at the local level on the priorities, challenges and opportunities within the new development agenda. The UN70 Belarus Express for SDGs involved more than 150,000 persons in its activities all over the country.

The train itself was not just a means of transportation, but also a platform for numerous discussions and events focused on SDGs. Ministers, Government officials, parliamentarians, all the regional Governors, more than 100 NGOs, more than 25 private sector partners, more than 30 embassies, students, journalists, religious leaders from all faiths, artists and celebrities, representatives of vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities, people living with HIV, victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, youth at risk, refugees and displaced persons and more than 240 UN staff from both resident and non-resident agencies took part in the Initiative.

A video was produced and is available depicting the experience.

Source: UN Belarus (2015), UNDG and UNDP (2015)

The UN Millennium Campaign has been mobilizing citizen support for the MDGs since 2002. It has contributed to the global outreach efforts to increase people’s engagement in the global conversation around The 2030 Agenda including through the MY World survey.

Continuing the work of the UN Millennium Campaign, the new UN Sustainable Development Goals Campaign will concentrate its efforts on:

  • Popularising the goals in every country through action-oriented engagement activities and training for key groups such as parliamentarians, municipal leaders, and civil society;
  • Bringing stakeholders together to support implementation efforts led by governments, particularly from civil society; and
  • Sponsoring people-driven processes to track progress on the agenda through crowdsourcing and grass-roots mobilization, including through MY World 2030, which is an evolution of the MY World platform and enhanced volunteer efforts at local level.

‘Project Everyone’ is part of the global outreach campaign for The 2030 Agenda and SDGs. It includes multiple traditional and social media assets and tools to reach a maximum number of people. Such a campaign could be emulated at a national level, with an objective to reach every citizen in the country to share information about the existing or forthcoming national plan and how it will endeavour to integrate the SDGs at the national level and how sub-national and local governments could follow suit.

A key element of the Project Everyone global outreach campaign is building awareness of the world’s youth. For example, The World’s Largest Lesson is designed to be the biggest ever collaborative education project inviting teachers from around the world to submit exciting lesson plans, with the winning ideas published as a “global set of learning resources on The World’s Largest Lesson website, to enable teachers to craft a relevant lesson on the SDGs for the children that they teach.”

Additionally, the Education 2030 Framework for Action was prepared by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and global stakeholders in 2015. This framework advances a common understanding of SDG #4 and related targets and provides a foundation not only for the future of education, but also for sustained public awareness on sustainable development and systems thinking through education.

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Innovative Case Example: The Millennium Campaign

The Millennium Campaign was launched in 2002 two years after the Millennium Declaration was signed. The Campaign encourages young people worldwide to add their voice to the global fight against poverty. Through partnerships with various global youth networks and organizations, the Campaign supports youth-led movement across the world on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As an example of one of its platforms, the Campaign partnered with the cable TV network Nickelodeon to broadcast across its 26 channels in the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America a series of 30-second original animation shorts highlighting how the MDGs affect the lives of kids worldwide and what they can do to have a voice in their future. Each short in the Nick 2015 campaign encourages kids to pledge their support via the web site.

Opportunity Management

Other forms of engagement can be leveraged to sensitize government officials and to raise public awareness that are perhaps less formal (and less costly), but can also be effective and build on existing channels. These opportunities could include for example, dedicated sessions on SDGs at donor coordination meetings, press briefings or meetings with the press (on and off the record), UN-wide town hall meetings, opinion pieces in the local press, the use of existing social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and mobile phone messaging (e.g., UNICEF’s U-Report initiative7, see Innovative Case Example below).

Innovative Case Example: U-Report Initiative Reaching Millions of People

U-Report is an innovative communication technology developed by UNICEF and revolutionizes social mobilization, monitoring and response efforts: It equips mobile phone users with the tools to establish and enforce new standards of transparency and accountability in development programs and services.

U-report is gaining popularity because it has given Ugandans the ability to inform other Ugandans and to take action…We can ask questions about issues throughout the country and get answers right away – by district, by gender, by age – and that helps us know where to concentrate our limited response resources and how best to advise our governments and aid partners.”

In 2015 in Nigeria, U-Report reached one million responders. UNICEF’s Global Innovations Team has launched U-Report in 17 countries mostly in Africa.

Toolkit

UNITAR National Briefing Package

The UNITAR Post-2015 National Briefings are “a self-explanatory integrated toolkit designed to support national facilitators in planning and delivering briefings at the country level.” The package includes:

  • Detailed program, organized in six modules with guidance for facilitators;
  • Discussion questions prepared with guidance from the UNDG Sustainable Development Working Group;
  • Kit with presentations, quizzes, videos, participants’ manual and methodologies for discussion groups.

Modules 1 and 2 are particularly suited to the Introductory Workshop Series on the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. An easy 10-step process is outlined to help UNCTs organize a national briefing.

Project Everyone

Project Everyone’ is part of the global outreach campaign for The 2030 Agenda and uses multiple outreach platforms, including online collaborations with Google/YouTube, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Wikipedia. A key aspect of the Project Everyone outreach campaign is The World’s Largest Lesson, a collaboration with UNICEF to get information on the SDGs in classrooms around the world.

Social Media

Outreach potential today has a tremendous advantage compared to the post-1992 Earth Summit era. This is due primarily to the Internet and its social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, to name a few. For example, UNICEF’s U-report initiative. These platforms could be used to their fullest advantage for reporting as well as for advocacy and consensus-building, in accordance with the national government’s guidelines on the use of social media.

Advanced Tool: Strategic Social Marketing

Commercial marketing and advertising has evolved over the decades into a hugely successful discipline for the private sector in promoting products and services. The use of similar approaches by the public and not-for-profit sectors for social change purposes is termed ‘social marketing’. The International Social Marketing Association notes that “Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good.” Some practitioners distinguish between ‘operational social marketing’ – addressing specific behavioral issues (i.e., anti-smoking campaigns), and ‘strategic social marketing’ – to inform policy and strategy development. For more information see ‘The Big Pocket Guide to Using Social Marketing for Behavioral Change’.

References and Links

OHCHR (2008). Claiming the Millennium Development Goals: A human rights approach. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Claiming_MDGs_en.pdf

UNDG and UNDP (2015). Retreat report on early Country Experiences in Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) for the 2030 Agenda. United Nations Development Program., New York, 1-3 December 2015. Available at: https://undg.org/main/undg_document/retreat-on-mainstreaming-the-2030-agenda-2425-november-2015/

UNDP (2007). Localizing the MDGs for Effective Integrated Local Development: An Overview of Practices and Lessons Learned. United Nations Development Program. Available at: http://web.iaincirebon.ac.id/ebook/moon/RegionalStudies/Localizing_the_MDGs.pdf

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Powering up data collection systems in Palestine

BY Subhra Bhattacharjee | July 11, 2018

In 2016 we prepared a Common Country Analysis (CCA) for Palestine. A CCA is UN speak for a detailed analysis of a country in preparation for a multi-year action plan of the UN. It identifies key development challenges and where the UN needs to focus its development investments. For our analysis this time, we decided to look at people. In hindsight it appears to be the obvious thing to do, but we were not the first to think of this. The Nepal UN Country Team did it before us. For our CCA we asked ourselves two questions: Who are the most vulnerable groups in Palestine? What are the structural drivers of their vulnerability? We thought if we could identify the most vulnerable groups and analyze the structural drivers of their chronic vulnerability, we will have a good sense of what it will take to ensure that our sustainable development investments leave no one behind. The first call for ideas brought out 61 proposed groups, each backed by passionate arguments as to why they are the most vulnerable. We merged some groups, reduced duplications, clarified categories, tinkered with definitions, and after extensive discussions, honed our focus to 20 vulnerable groups. This gave us a window to the factors that keep some groups in Palestine systematically at a disadvantage. Next, we did a deep-dive to understand why development was leaving some groups behind. For some groups, including out-of-school children and children in the labour market, the lack of adequate data makes it difficult for government to formulate specific policies and programmes for these groups. Alternative data collection methods for groups that are small compared to the population After a comprehensive exercise to account for the data, especially looking at Sustainable Development Goals indicators, we noted that relevant data on smaller groups couldn’t be collected only through existing surveys. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) uses representative samples for each geographical area of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and even though it produces high quality data consistent with international standards, there is a lack of up-to-date and periodic disaggregated data on several smaller groups. Take for example, the fishermen of Gaza. There are some 4,000 registered fishermen in Gaza, accounting for 0.2 percent of Gaza’s population of two million. If PCBS samples 1,000 people from Gaza for one of its quarterly labour force surveys, it will have at most two fishermen in its sample. We cannot draw any reliable conclusions about the socio-economic conditions of fishermen in Gaza from a sample of two people. And if PCBS included more fishermen in their sample, the percentage of fishermen in the sample will be larger than the percentage of fishermen in Gaza’s population. To create a large enough sub-sample for fisherfolk, PCBS will need to do a new level of sub-sampling by profession or sector on top of the two layers it is already subsampling. This would significantly increase its cost of surveys. Are you still tracking with us? Keep reading.   Flash surveys to the rescue So, for the smaller groups, we at the UN looked for an approach to gather data that would not cost too much, would not create too much additional work and most importantly, that is able to produce good quality data. The first thing we tried is a series of flash surveys – with small samples, and short questionnaires. These flash surveys had several benefits over the more traditional surveys with bigger samples and longer questionnaires: They allowed us to test our systems for collecting primary data and iterate quickly and cheaply if necessary to work out the flaws in the system. They enabled our enumerators to get hands-on training at a relatively low cost to us. They are also particularly suitable for understanding the smaller groups that don’t get adequately represented in the bigger surveys. We chose four vulnerable groups: adolescent girls, children in labour, the elderly and persons with disabilities as pilot cases. UNFPA took the lead in this. They engaged the Sharek Youth Forum, a non-profit, and one of UNFPA’s implementing partners to conduct the surveys. OHCHR, FAO, UNRWA, helped with the quality control. 37 university students (28 from the West Bank and 9 from Gaza) were recruited from Sharek’s network and trained as enumerators by an expert. The survey questionnaires in Arabic were uploaded on KoBoToolbox, a free and open source suite of tools for collecting data. Many of the young enumerators owned smartphones so they downloaded the app on their phones and entered the data for each person they surveyed into their smartphones. Sharek provided the others with tablets. A village, a town and a refugee camp were selected in each governorate. Sharek’s enumerators visited schools to survey adolescent girls, reached out to the elderly in their local communities, and found persons with disabilities through support groups. ILO provided information on the areas with high concentration of child labour. The enumerators collected the data over a period of two weeks, and, in some cases, they used paper forms to collect the data and documented problems as they arose. The enumerators collected data on a small number of key demographic variables for each group. For the data on the four groups produced by Viz for Social Good, click here, here, here, and here. Before even looking at the data, we noted a few things. First, we now have 37 trained enumerators who can be deployed again at short notice to conduct other flash surveys. The investment in training and the hands-on experience they got has started the process of creating systems to collect data on vulnerable groups. Second, we need to finesse our sample selection if we want to use the surveys to provide baseline indicators and monitor progress. Third, we need to think through how to combine the data from smartphones and paper surveys. Fourth, we need to figure out how to identify our target groups based on more rigorous definitions. For instance, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour. According to ILO, child labour refers to work that “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. Fifth, flash surveys need more quality control if they are to serve the same purpose as traditional surveys. This is because with smaller samples of flash surveys, the choice of location will need extra attention to ensure that the sample is indeed representative. This year, we will work through these wrinkles. Engaging people in their own data analysis In data circles, we often hear the idea of engaging communities to collect and use their own data. But the instances of it being done in a meaningful, low cost, sustainable way to generate usable data are few and far between. Could we pull it off? We decided to experiment with combining data collection and empowerment for one of the most vulnerable groups in the oPt, namely, Area C communities. Area C accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank. It has some of the most fertile agricultural land and almost the entirety of Palestine’s natural resources. An estimated 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C and a greater number depend on its resources for their livelihoods. Area C is controlled by the Israeli military,  which has exclusive control over land, planning and construction. Significant portions of Area C land are allocated for Israeli settlements and declared as Israeli state land. Only about 30 percent of Area C is available for Palestinian construction, but so far Palestinians have been issued permits to build on less than one percent of the land. Since construction permits in Area C are closely tied to Israeli spatial plans, spatial plans driven by Palestinian communities have been used in recent times to empower communities, and to rally the Israeli Civil Administration to issue permits to Palestinians for construction. 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Right now, the background work is still ongoing. The model will be piloted in 2019. Will this actually work? We don’t know. For now, we know that we now have the systems in place to replicate or update the data collection of smaller groups through flash surveys, we can engage communities participate in collecting and analysing their own data and integrate a community-driven process to identify land ownership and user rights, at a lower cost than in the first run. And we will use whatever we learn from these initiatives to finesse our methods in our next set of data collection initiatives in 2018.

Silo Fighters Blog

Making money move: New financing to achieve the SDGs

BY Richard Bailey | July 3, 2018

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Regardless of where you grew up, we all learn about the importance of securing every penny, rand, real, euro, yen, ruble, or rupee. And the saying is particularly relevant today since development organizations like the United Nations (UN) must mobilize more than US$3.0 trillion every year if we hope to achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Official development assistance (ODA) is still an important finance mechanism but only $140 billion are secured each year. If we, the UN, intend to accelerate progress so no one is left behind, ODA needs to be used more strategically, and other sources of finance must be secured. There also needs to be an organizational shift from strictly funding programmes and initiatives to an approach that involves “funding and financing” to tap into international, national, private and public financial flows. Perspective shift: from funding to financing A growing number of blended finance sources have helped advance development aims in recent years.[1] Private sector guarantees, syndicated loans, and shares in collective investment vehicles mobilized $36.4 billion,[2] while socially responsible investing exceeded $6 trillion between 2012 and 2014. Impact investors and development finance institutions created a new investing asset class that is projected to grow to $400 billion by 2025. When it comes to financing, the rules are changing, and the UN is looking at new ways of aligning financial flows and attracting new investors. UN Country Teams (UNCTs) in Kenya, Indonesia and Armenia explored ways of helping national governments and local partners secure broad, non-traditional funds for development purposes. They mapped out challenges, unlocked new types of financing and used resources in a timely and innovative manner. The three most successful tools adopted were impact investing, Islamic financing, and sector-specific fund modalities. Impact investing in Armenia In the last few years, Armenia has turned into a thriving tech start-up hub and financing initiatives have followed two major trends: venture philanthropy and impact investing. To capitalize on these new forms of funding, the UNCT set up a country platform for SDG implementation that is aligned with national reform and SDG efforts. The collaborative space allows the UN, development partners and civil society to strengthen relationships and develop new ones with international financial institutions, donors and philanthropists. Other innovations: SDG Innovation Lab, the Kolba Social Innovation Lab, ImpactAim Venture Accelerator. Islamic financing in Indonesia Home to the world’s largest Muslim population and the tenth largest economy, the Government of Indonesia recently turned to inclusive and ‘green’ financing to accelerate the SDGs. The UNCT saw the potential and embraced new forms of finance to support sustainable development initiatives. Good practices include employing blended finance instruments and Islamic financing (Baznas).[3] In 2017, UNDP channelled zakat (charitable funds) for a micro-hydro energy project to improve access to water, renewable energy and livelihoods in some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. Other innovations: Financing Lab, “Bring Water for Life” and #TimeforTigers crowdfunding campaigns. Primary health care financing in Kenya One million people in Kenya fall into poverty every year because of a fractured health care system,[4] which is why the national government prioritized rolling out Universal Health Care in the “Big 4 Action Plan.” The UNCT supports the government by working with private sector partners on the Private Sector Health Partnership Kenya initiative and SDG Philanthropy Platform. Bringing together the private and public sectors together has opened doors to new cross-sectoral opportunities in the health, tech, early childhood development, nutrition, and technical and vocational training sectors. Make it rain: harnessing the potential of innovative financing The cost of solving the world’s most critical problems currently runs into the trillions, forcing development financing into a new era. There are no other options if traditional development aid no longer makes the grade. The UN has to pivot and embrace the changes taking place or risk becoming redundant and irrelevant. Luckily there are many opportunities to seize, and the UN has plenty of comparative advantages to bring to the table. The organization has a long, successful history of bringing together partners, training and recruiting experts, scaling up projects, and imparting technical knowledge. UN staff are skilled in advising, brokering knowledge, innovating, analysing data, and measuring impact. As we have seen in Kenya, Armenia and Indonesia, capital can be mobilized through impact investing, attracting early investors, or securing funds for larger investments in sectors identified by the central government. Embracing the latest tech innovations (e.g. e-health or mobile diagnostics) can turn unattractive investment areas into “bankable propositions.” Perhaps the most important takeaway is to not “let perfection be the enemy of the good.” Change may take time but UNCTs can’t wait for everything to be in place before embarking on new initiatives or adopting innovative types of financing. Steps to secure the right kind of capital have to be taken because time is running and “business as usual” no longer works—the numbers tell the whole story. Societal progress involves taking calculated risks, and achieving the SDGs is no exception. Unlocking new sources of funding is one way the UN can make sustainable gains and help governments make returns on the 2030 Agenda. ---- [1] Discussed in detail in “Financing the UN Development System. Pathways to Reposition for Agenda 2030” (September 2017), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in collaboration with the MPTF Office, http://www.daghammarskjold.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Financing-Report-2017_Interactive.pdf. [2] Amounts Mobilised from the Private Sector by Official Development Finance Interventions: Guarantees, syndicated loans and shares in collective investment vehicles’, OECD working paper, 2016. [3] Baznas was established by the government based on Presidential Decree 8/2011. The agency is responsible for collecting and distributing zakat at the national level. [4] Thomson Reuters Foundation, February 2018, http://news.trust.org/item/20180209112650-s1njv/.