Our Work and the Sustainable Development Goals

One key example of how we leverage partnerships and work collaboratively is through all of our work surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

Sustainable Development Goals illustration

The SDGs work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. They provide clear guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large.

Below are several ways we leverage partnerships and collaboration towards the achievement of these Global Goals.

1. Promoting SDGs in Philanthropy

Philanthropy has played a critical role in developing the SDGs and is now leading and shaping discussions about how to achieve them globally. Even before the leaders of 193 countries adopted the goals in September 2015, it was clear that the support of philanthropy and the rest of the private sector would be essential for the goals’ success. Some foundations and companies helped shape the goals while many actors are supporting programs that will help achieve them. Government and business cannot achieve these goals on their own; we need all sectors working together.

In addition to fostering collaboration, philanthropy can help these efforts through advocacy, facilitating implementation, helping to identify ways to measure success and training the next generation of leaders capable of promoting evidence-based solutions that address the human development, health and economic and environmental needs at the core of the SDGs. Historically, philanthropy has been absent from the conversation on global goals, particularly at the country level. This has changed through the SDG Philanthropy Platform, a multi-year philanthropic initiative implemented by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Foundation Center, and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation and the MasterCard Foundation.

The SDG Philanthropy Platform works to define concrete ways for how philanthropy could contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The Platform has been instrumental in raising awareness about the SDGs, forging partnerships between philanthropy and the private and public sectors, and increasing philanthropy’s engagement with the post-2015 development agenda.

SDG Philanthropy Platforms on the ground

The partnership has held planning workshops in its five pilot countries: Kenya, Colombia, Indonesia, Ghana and Zambia. The workshops brought together representatives from philanthropy, governments, and the United Nations, to identify country-specific opportunities to collaborate on achieving global development goals.

The SDG Philanthropy Platform is recognized as a key ally of the government in the implementation of the SDGs in Kenya, notably with the official launch of the Platform by the President of Kenya on September 14, 2016. This example shows that with coordinated, committed, and intentional efforts, along with the right people, progress can be realized in a timely manner.

2. The SDGs as Framework for Programmatic Initiatives

Another way we seek to incorporate the SDGs in our work is by framing our programmatic areas to align directly with the targets and indicators for specific SDGs. Our Safe Water Strategic Initiative, for example, is directly aligned with SDG 6: Clean Water Sanitation. In keeping with SDG 6, our shared global vision is for every person living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage, health facility and school to have reliable access to safe and affordable water by 2030 and beyond.

Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS is another example of a Strategic Initiative at the Foundation that aligns with a specific goal. The Vision for the Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Initiative is to improve the developmental outcomes of all young children (0-5 years) affected by HIV and AIDS in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia by 2030 in line with SDG target 4.2.

We have learned through a survey of Catholic sisters in Africa that while African Sisters are already engaged in SDG related activities they often take place without their being aware of SDG goals and targets and hence the potential to enhance their impact by collaborating with other development actors. The Catholic sisters have, therefore, requested that our Catholic Sisters Initiative help them develop SDG leadership capacities that will lead to leveraging opportunities which will increase the impact of their SDG related ministries.

In addition to the Safe Water and Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Strategic Initiatives being aligned with specific SDGs, we are also exploring ways to apply the SDGs to our domestic Strategic Initiatives, including Homelessness, Substance Use Prevention and Foster Youth.

3. Grantmaking Initiatives

We continually research, identify and fund programs working to advance the SDGs. Below are a few key grants and descriptions of the work we are funding. To date, we have approved close to $10 million in grants to the following initiatives and others in alignment with the SDGs.

  • UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center: $5.44 million for the creation of an initiative that will train the next generation of world leaders and thinkers.
  • SDG Philanthropy Platform: Two grants totaling $3 million to help foundations and philanthropists optimize their resources by connecting various stakeholders at multiple levels.
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: $2 million to implement the SDG Philanthropy Platform in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia.
  • United Nations Development Programme: $250,000 to support the Connecting Business Initiative, a program that offers an entry point for the private sector, governments, civil society and humanitarian and development actors to connect and collaborate, promoting a more holistic response to disasters and conflicts.
  • Bread for the World: $100,000 to partner with Measure of America and the Skoll Social Progress Index on the domestic application of the Sustainable Development Goals.