By Sarah E L Stricker, on 6 April 2016
Workshop on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
2nd March 2015
Policy Strategies for the Future
On March 2nd the International Public Policy Review (IPPR) held a workshop entitled The Young Leaders Challenge: Engaging civil society and the public in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The workshop was led by Darshita Gillies, a leadership coach, facilitator, and co-founder and CEO of Blu Dot Global System Integration.
Under Darshita’s direction, the students utilised Theory U Process (Presencing Institute, MIT) along with systemic constellation work as an innovative embodiment technique to drive deep understanding and connection to the problem solving process.
The workshop involved eight participants, all MSc students in the Department of Political Science at University College London. The participants came from a wide range of backgrounds, from public service and health development, to business school and teaching, and many different countries; Israel, Kazakhstan, and France to name a few.
The students were asked to create policy strategies that would contribute toward engaging civil society and the public in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These policy strategies were then presented to an external panel of experts who provided constructive feedback and ideas on the feasibility and next steps of the strategies.
During the workshop the participants were guided by Darshita to imagine and embody the stakeholders involved in the achievement of the SDGs. This took a physical form, as each participant created a sculpture with their body to represent their stakeholder. The stakeholder sculptures came together interacting with each other to form a union that characterised the ideal relationship between them.
The brainstorming and stimulating physical embodiment process gave rise to a wealth of inspiration for policy strategies. As well as presenting their policy strategies to the panel, participants were asked to reflect on what actions they could take personally to support the SDGs in their own lives.
The panel consisted of: Catherine Pearce, Director of Future Justice, Dylan Matthews, CEO of Peace Direct, Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, UCL SPP Lecturer, Associate Fellow of Science, Innovation and Society at Oxford University, Emma Ashru Jones WPP Fellow and Marketing Lead at Collectively and Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb, Director of the International Public Policy Program at UCL.
This diverse panel of experts provided significant, thoughtful, and valuable feedback on the participant’s policy strategies. The considerable experience of the panel in their respective industries allowed them to give practical advice such as people or organisations to get in touch with and provoking questions that challenged the assumptions of the participants and enabled them to deepen their policy strategy and personal commitment.
The process lead to insightful policy strategies, ideas for action and meaningful relationships. The following policy strategies are the product of an in depth and progressive structure to developing policy strategies for an important current issue.
Policy Strategies for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Improved Access to Information Driving Awareness and Accountability
The creation of an international protocol aimed at promoting easier access to information. States would have to commit to providing easily accessible, unbiased news on their activities in a variety of forms, e.g. radio, in a manner that is reflective of the national literacy rates of their populations. The idea behind this is to give legitimacy and leverage to civil society. If people are more aware of what’s going in, even if they don’t know what to do with the information, civil society’s campaigns will more likely to stick and together; people and civil society will be able to hold the government to account.
Integration of SDGs at All Levels of Policy Development in All States
There is not currently a coherent plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and monitor progress throughout the UK. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness from the UK public on what the goals are and what they mean. Yet, the SDGs are global and target all countries rather than just developing countries. The SDGs should be integrated into all government sectors and ensure that they are taken into account with all policy decisions. The government also needs to ensure that the public have a much greater awareness of the SDGs and what the government is doing to achieve them.
Sharing Relatable Stories to Increase the Longevity of Empathy
The major setback of engaging individuals over the world with the Sustainable Development Goals is how individuals in developing countries are perceived by western individuals. In large part this is due to the “helpless” images used by charities to gain donations, which plays into and reinforces biases between race, ethnicity, and religion, caused by unfamiliarity.
To increase long-term empathy (unlike the short-term induced by the above mentioned images) civil society should share stories by “normal” people to “normal” people across the developing and developed world. These may be able to shatter walls of “otherness”, incapability or helplessness associated with populations of developing countries. Such a change will uncover the complexity of sustainable development and therefore will be an important step toward individual willingness to take part in achieving the SDGs.
Promote Crowd Funding as a Legitimate Aid Vehicle
As of today, there are 344 million households in developing countries which can make small crowdfund investments (World Bank), which have become an established, alternative source of financing after the recent financial crisis. The benefit of using crowdfunding stems from the fact that it represents a low-cost way to target niche groups of potential donors that are spread across the world and raise capital for an exact outcome. This allows policy-makers not only to engage but also empower civil society by turning citizens into investors. Secondly, governments can gain citizens’ support by giving them the opportunity to invest their money for a region/issue they are particularly interested in and have control over where their money is going. By promoting the main crowdfunding platforms (Indiegogo and Kickstarter) it gives these projects legitimacy, reduces competition with local financial markets and ultimately make SDGs more visible to civil society.
Enhanced Education Opportunities for Empowerment and Inclusion
As part of the Sustainable Development Goal Number 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, refugees and marginalised youth should be empowered through educational programmes to ensure that affected youth have access not just to education but a certain quality of education. There are two ways in which this could done, one way would be to generate a fund for scholarships for youth from vulnerable communities to access education in the West and remove the stigmas around being a refugee and finally experience what it is like to be treated as a human being. The second way is to enhance and promote the online learning platforms that exist, so that more youth can access educational programmes abroad from their homes, this would ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are not removed from their communities but are equipped to lead and take up positions to rebuild their societies.
Raise Public Awareness
Increase the level of SDG information coverage for the public at large. Specifically awareness-raising for the general public to encourage full engagement with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Systematic and Multi-faceted Evaluation to Generate Smart Development
Evaluations of programs and projects need to become systematic, whether they take place in NGOs, international organisations, or by private actors. There is a need to see what has worked in the past, what hasn’t, and in what context in order to identify the patterns and mechanisms that make development work. Additionally, not all evaluation should be performed in a quantitative way and some categories of development programs require more qualitative assessment of results and performance.
Creating Shared Value by Corporate Employee Engagement in SDGs
People might be aware of the SDGs and willing to make a change, but they often struggle to channel their goodwill: they don’t know how to make a change or on which door to knock.
To ensure that solutions to achieving the SDGs are embedded in everyday lives, companies should have the responsibility, not only to educate their employees about the SDGs, but also to give their employees free time or even provide company programs to dedicated to the SDGs. This could come from letting employees use a paid two hours per week to work on personal projects related to SDGs, or more ambitiously it could be a program involving the entire company. For example, the company could educate their employees about the SDGs, and propose a vote by all employees in January about which of the SDGs the company is going to work on for the year to come. Employees would be assigned to teams by February, and all team could be given a mission to accomplish throughout the year, whose outcome would benefit the company’s chosen SDG. This would educate a large part of the population about the SGDs, while also giving them the tools and channels to work on it without any costs (it would be on their working time). On the other hand, it would also benefit companies by bringing their employees together, creating networks, creating a strong company atmosphere, and sense of belonging, enhancing employees well-being and building a positive reputation for the company, which in turn would benefit future recruitment.
Educate the World’s Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals
One of the most important ways to promote worldwide goals and improve SDG achievement is to make sure that the global community buys into it from the beginning. It would be easier to foster the environment needed if the UN sponsored a curriculum to teach the Sustainable Development Goals at the primary level around the world. By partnering with state governments to promote the SDGs and general UN awareness at the primary level could help foster the next generation of world citizens engaged with and motivated to achieve global goals.