Dialogue 2. New Actors for a New Agenda

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 at 7:00 pm

Cervantes Institute, 211 E 49th Street, New York, NY 10017

The 2030 Agenda will build on the ability to bring everyone to the table

The 2030 Agenda, the global roadmap for sustainable development set for roll-out in January 2016, will feature new players and will redefine the way actors interact with each other to build a better world. The success of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend largely on the ability to build partnerships between national governments, international organizations, the private sector, NGOs and civil society, and likely religious groups. In this context, the United Nations must play a catalytic role if we are to better engage and bring “everyone” to the table.

These were some of the insights from ‘New Actors for a New Agenda’, the second event in the series ‘15i Dialogues, ideas for a sustainable world beyond 2015’, hosted by the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) at the Cervantes Institute in New York, on October 20. During the session moderated by NY1 News anchor Juan Manuel Benitez, panelists shared their views on the how both public and private sector entities can play a role and how we can involve new stakeholders, make an impact on poverty and actually measure results.

After brief remarks by Ignacio Olmos, the Director of the Cervantes Institute, and Rebekah Kosinski of the SDG-F, economist Sonia Balcazar, Consulting Associate at Synergos, suggested that extractive industries which are traditionally seen as a source of conflict rather than opportunity can have a transformational impact on reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the framework of the SDGs. She noted that about 3.5 billion people live in countries rich in oil, gas or minerals, and that many of these countries also suffer from poverty and corruption from weak governance. Balcazar considers Agenda 2030 to be a useful framework to promote more transparent management of extractive industry revenues and to provide benefits for local people in respect of both community needs and the environment.

For Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, Chairman and Co-Founder of PVBLIC Foundation, the new Agenda represents a great opportunity to build stronger public-private partnerships. He explained that corporate culture continues to dictate better social practices and has made companies more conscious of the environment. However, more effort must be made to highlight successful examples of programmes and to attract a new generation of young entrepreneurs interested in global issues. To this end, he underscored the role of media and campaigns such as the UN Media for Social Impact to drive these partnerships.

Sustainable Development Goals for a new generation

Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation International, agreed on building partnerships between public and private sectors, NGO, academia and civil society to achieve the SDGs. She highlighted the need for “real receptivity” in discussions about funding for sustainable development, and the need to break stereotypes if we are to allow all actors to be part of the solution against poverty and inequality. Mitchell Salem considered it a mistake to view the rich as part of the problem and reiterated the need for education to play a key role for the Agenda 2030 principles –especially with new generations.

Raul de Mora from the SDG Fund spoke of the need for an expanded understanding of the goals. While people often refer to the SDGs as “Global Goals” particularly in media, the goals are first and foremost an agenda for local action. In fact, it’s important to recognize that local challenges can turn into global challenges, especially with issues such as climate change, the Ebola crisis, or the most recent refugee crisis. With this in mind, we need to create platforms where all relevant local actors can participate and like the SDG-F programmes, we need to incorporate national and local committees to better engage partners and manage activities. In addition, matching funds are important for national and local governments to help increase the programme’s sustainability and offer a greater potential to scale.

The SDG Fund in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute initiated the series ‘15i Dialogues, ideas for a sustainable world beyond 2015’ in an effort to catalyze some of the discussion on the new Agenda for Sustainable Development, bringing together specialists, professionals, activists, entrepreneurs and academics to address issues pertaining to sustainable development and to explore ways in which we can respond more effectively and efficiently to the ongoing challenges on the ground. The idea is to exchange innovative ideas and experiences on how to implement the universal plan for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. We hope to encourage open and equal debate and invite people to share their constructive thoughts and feedback pertaining to the implementation of the new development framework. It may be an ambitious agenda but it’s on that is definitely worth pursuing.