Applying the MIT Practical Impact Alliance model, members of the Geneva SDG Community mapped the different roles they play vis-à-vis three missions related to enabling SDG implementation: leveraging sustainable finance for the SDGs; enhancing the use of quality data for SDG action; and harnessing the positive potential of digital technology towards SDG impact.
The exercise resulted in new, more profound connections among SDG actors and in improved understanding of the different roles they play vis-à-vis the shared mission.
By Trine Schmidt, Policy Advisor, SDG Knowledge, IISD, and SDG Lab
How do we enhance effective collaboration to accelerate progress towards the SDGs? Leading up to Global Goals Week, which will mobilize communities around the world for the SDGs, the Geneva SDG Community came together for its 2022 Annual Meeting to find inspiration and possible answers to this question.
Grounded in the paradigm of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that sustainable development can only be achieved through multi-stakeholder collaboration, the Geneva SDG Community is an active network of Geneva-based actors dedicated to advancing the 2030 Agenda. The network is jointly convened by the SDG Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
The network, initiated over five years ago, leverages the know-how, expertise, and skills of Geneva-based organizations working on SDG implementation, and counts over 350 members from the UN, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society, academia, and the private sector. As such it provides individuals operating in the complex ecosystem of Geneva the opportunity to connect and learn from each other’s experiences in advancing the SDGs.
To reflect on how to enhance collaboration for the SDGs through an ecosystem approach like the one in Geneva, IISD and the SDG Lab invited Nadim Choucair, founding partner of the 2030 Cabinet, to present his research on what makes collaboration in mission-driven ecosystems work.
The MIT Practical Impact Alliance model defines local innovation ecosystems as “place-based communities of interacting actors engaged in producing innovation along with the infrastructure, resources, and enabling environment that allow them to create, adopt, and spread more effective ways of doing this.”
Drawing on this definition and on the concept of mission economy by economist Marina Mazzucato, Choucair highlighted that an important ingredient to the success of such networks in terms of effective collaboration is actors’ understanding of the ecosystem landscape within which they operate as well as of the specific role they play towards the shared mission of this ecosystem. In order words, it is essential to make the network of individuals operating in an ecosystem “visible to itself” and ensure a clear mission.
While the 2030 Agenda is a broad roadmap comprised of many specific missions, for the Geneva SDG Community the mission is clear: to accelerate action for the SDGs. Applying the MIT model, members of the Geneva SDG Community were guided through an exercise to map the different roles they play vis-à-vis three missions related to enabling SDG implementation:
- leveraging sustainable finance for the SDGs;
- enhancing the use of quality data for SDG action; and
- harnessing the positive potential of digital technology towards SDG impact.
These three areas represent the structural lens around which the SDG Lab and IISD convene the Geneva SDG Community. Conducted in six “collaboration labs,” the exercise resulted in new, more profound connections among SDG actors and in improved understanding of the different roles they play vis-à-vis the shared mission. Participants said it was helpful to identify “missing” roles in the community to strengthen collaboration on the SDGs.
This theoretical framework and practical exercise make clear that network meetings, such as the Annual Meeting of the Geneva SDG Community, are important occasions to help actors make sense of the roles they play toward the shared goal of achieving the SDGs.
The 2022 Annual Meeting of the Geneva SDG Community took place on 15 September at UN Geneva. Global Goals Week 2022 convenes during the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) High-level Week, from 16-25 September.
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