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Making the Global, Local: How the Sustainable Development Goals Can Be Implemented in the United States

February 1, 2018

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity; yet, all too often, people underestimate the “universality” of the global goals, assuming the goals only apply to developing countries. We, at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, firmly understand the relevance of the goals on the domestic level and the sense of urgency to act on progress towards the SDGs by 2030.

To that end, in January 2017, a group of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations convened on our campus to discuss how best to accelerate action on domestic application of the SDGs in the United States. Within the current context of American politics and given current national and local challenges, the SDGs provide a nonpartisan framework for moving the country towards ambitious targets that aim to leave no one behind by 2030. A sense of needing to use this moment to mobilize different actors, including linking the goals to current momentum around relevant initiatives like Sanctuary Cities, permeated the conversation. There are also key elements of the SDGs that should resonate with Republican-led Washington, including issues like jobs and infrastructure. How can we leverage shared interests to build support of all 17 global goals? Can we frame the SDGs as a lever for social progress, even with conservative leadership?

Among these questions, other key themes emerged from the meeting:

  • There is an opportunity to leverage unlikely partners to collaborate with to strengthen the domestic application of the SDGs (e.g. state-level actors, mayors, faith-based communities, media partners, diaspora communities and the private sector)
  • There is a need to carefully shape and frame the SDG narrative, by ensuring the goals seem “graspable, attractive and feasible”
  • Data should be utilized to shape reporting and decision-making, and to keep governments accountable between now and 2030

Overall, there is an exciting, critical role for cities and potentially states to lead on the SDGs. To tackle the SDGs at home, a strategy is needed to engage at multiple levels and with myriad partners – including cities, states, and when possible, federal agencies and national political leaders.

SDGs in the United States

Opportunities for 2017 and Beyond

Read the full report

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