17 July 2017: Member States, UN agencies, UN Regional Commissions, and stakeholders reviewed the work of several multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary initiatives in driving implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), during the second annual Partnership Exchange. Through sharing expertise and lessons learned, participants also discussed ways in which partnerships can address some of the challenges encountered by countries that presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this year.

The event took place on 17 July 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York, US, during the ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP) organized the meeting.

The VNRs are a component of the 2030 Agenda’s follow-up and review process at the global level and are presented annually during the HLPF. During the 2017 HLPF ministerial segment, 44 VNR presentations will take place.

The Partnership Exchange focused on the six SDGs reviewed by the HLPF this year: SDG 1 (no poverty); SDG 2 (zero hunger); SDG 3 (good health and well-being); SDG 5 (gender equality); SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure); and SDG 14 (life below water). It also addressed SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), which the HLPF reviews annually.

UNGA President, Peter Thomson, said partnerships are and will be “the prime movers” in SDG implementation.

In a keynote address, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President, Peter Thomson, said partnerships are and will be “the prime movers” in SDG implementation as long as they adhere to the standards of sound governance, ethics, and transparency.

Delivering opening remarks, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs,Wu Hongbo, said the HLPF is “leading the way forward” on partnerships, through both the Partnerships Exchange and the SDG Business Forum that it organizes.

Following the opening segment, Ola Goransson, DESA, presented the ‘Partnership Data for SDGs Framework.’ He said the initiative seeks to enhance the transparency, coherence, and comparability of the work undertaken by multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary initiatives in their support of the SDGs, by establishing a standardized framework for how information on voluntary commitments and partnerships should be published on websites and associated knowledge products.

In a session on SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 (end hunger), Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, Permanent Representative of Peru at the UN, announced that Peru will start implementing a national strategy to fight anemia in partnership with other governments in the region. He presented the national initiative ‘Cooking with a Cause’ led by Peruvian chefs, which aims to contribute to efforts to end poverty and hunger.

International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder, showcased ‘Alliance 8.7,’ which aims to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking, and child labor. He further highlighted ‘The Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth,’ which is the first UN system-wide effort for the promotion of youth employment worldwide.

Juan Gonzalez-Valero, Syngenta, presented the ‘Growing Together’ initiative in Bangladesh, which works to: support smallholders’ agronomy and business skills to empower them to increase their yields, the quality of their products, and their safety; and improve the community’s links with local value chain actors to generate higher incomes.

Jesús Anton, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), introduced the ‘Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM),’ explaining that holistic management of risks represents an innovative opportunity to achieve the SDGs.

Carmen Burbano, the World Food Programme (WFP), presented the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub Peru, which aims to improve multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder coordination and educate Peruvian consumers to make better nutrition choices through TV shows and other media projects.

Katherine Richards, Save the Children UK, presented the ‘Sun Movement,’ a global movement led by 59 countries to end malnutrition in all its forms.

In a session on SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Executive Secretary, Olga Algayerova, introduced the ‘Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E)’, which centralizes 117 voluntary commitments by 25 countries to green the economy and achieve the SDGs.

Mario Parra da Silva, UN Global Compact Network Portugal, said the Portugal UN Global Compact Network reached a membership of 70 companies and created a ‘Council of Honor’ whose members, well-known personalities, promote the SDGs.

Chantal Line Carpentier, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the UN ‘Sustainable Stock Exchanges’ Initiative, which aims to promote the alignment of the capital market with the SDGs. The Initiative has a membership of 64 stock exchanges globally, representing more than 70% of the global capital market.

Claire Melamed, Executive Director, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, said governments will need more data than ever to implement and monitor the SDGs, while the world has more data than ever. She explained the Partnership aims to bridge demand and supply through collaboration and has more than 250 data partners.

Colin Allen, Chair of International Disability Alliance (IDA), said people with disabilities represent 15% of the world’s population and are among those most left behind. To address this challenge, Allen explained that the partnership between IDA and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) is advocating to ensure their rights, including through SDG data disaggregation.

Henry Gourdji, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), presented the ‘Aviation Partnerships for Sustainable Development,’ stressing that, for countries in special situations, aviation represents an essential lifeline to facilitate trade, deliver aid in crisis situations and foster development.

Oyun Sanjaasuren, Chair, Global Water Partnership, recommended the 2018 Partnerships Exchange be organized in partnership with governments and on a date that allows the participation of ministers, rather than during the HLPF.

Opening the afternoon session, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, noted, via video message, that the UN received an unprecedented number of partnerships for the 2030 Agenda, with more than 3,600 commitments registered to date on the ‘Partnerships for SDGs’ platform.

In a session on SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDG 5 (gender equality), the Czech Republic said her VNR shows that SDG 5 remains a great challenge for the Czech Republic, with a significant gender pay gap and a reduced presence of women in leadership positions. Denmark said Denmark’s experience shows the importance of dialogue in building the trust necessary for effective partnerships.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said 260 million fewer women than men access the internet, while 1.7 billion women in developing countries still do not own a mobile phone. She presented ‘EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age,’ created to address the technology gender gap.

“Nana” Kuo, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, said ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ focuses on creating synergies between different initiatives working on improving the health of women, children and youth, in support of the SDGs.

Ton Coenen, Chair of Euro NGOs and Executive Director of Rutgers, presented the ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in Europe’ initiative, which aims to protect SRHR, which he said is threatened in Europe by increasing populist movements.

Hayley Gleeson, ACT!2030 Project Coordinator, introduced ‘The PACT for Social Transformation in the AIDS Response,’ comprised of 80 youth organizations and supported by UN-AIDS, which provides youth-designed solutions to aid and discrimination.

Judith A. Hermanson, CEO, IHC Global, presented the partnership ‘Using Data to Support Women’s Rights: Property Markets and Housing Rights through a Gender Equity Lens,’ which supports women’s property rights and asset building by providing transparency on property transactions in Uganda.

Shambhu Acharya, World Health Organization (WHO), introduced the initiative ‘Working for Health: A Five-Year Action Plan for Health Employment and Inclusive Economic Growth (2017 – 2021),’ which aims to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage by ensuring equitable access to health workers within strengthened health systems.

In a ‘Fireside Chat’ on accountability and monitoring of partnerships, moderator Mariarosa Cutillo, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the three key ingredients for partnerships are engagement of partners from the beginning, design of a common language and accountability.

Helga Fogstad, Executive Director, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), stressed the importance of indicators for both tracking and improving performance.

During a session on SDG 14 (life below water), Marjo Vierros, Global Ocean Forum, provided an overview of the UN Ocean Conference voluntary commitments. She said a total of 1,395 voluntary commitments were registered during the UN Ocean Conference, including: 616 by governments; 285 by NGOs; 116 by UN entities; 81 by the private sector; 60 by intergovernmental organizations; 46 by academic institutions; 23 by the scientific community; and 18 by philanthropic organizations.

Kate Brown, Executive Director, Global Island Partnership, said the challenge is to find ways to ensure that a large number of commitments and actions truly lead to tangible impact.

Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum, stressed the importance of gathering baseline data on the current status of the voluntary commitments, in order to be able to assess progress on them in the future. [Partnerships Exchange Website] [Programme for Partnerships Exchange][HLPF Website] [IISD Sources]