Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Global Councils on SDGs is a unique interdisciplinary network of decision makers from governments, international organizations, academia, and the private sector, who came together to share innovative practices and discuss the creative implementation of the SDGs at the national and global level. Based at the World Government Summit, the Councils aimed to work on creating new partnerships between countries, organizations, and sustainable development advocates for the implementation of SDGs.
The World Government Summit is a neutral, non-profit organization at the intersection of government & innovation. It functions as a knowledge exchange platform for leaders in the public and private sectors to convene and collaborate with world-renowned experts in creating positive impact for citizens around the world.
The Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals was launched as a cross collaborative project between the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during the 'SDGs in Action' platform held at the World Government Summit (WGS) in 2018. The initiative aims to give visibility to the best approaches and ideas vetted by practitioners.
The Global Councils on SDGs is a unique interdisciplinary network of decision makers from governments, international organizations, academia, and the private sector, who came together from 2018 to 2020 to share innovative practices and discuss the creative implementation of the SDGs at the national and global level. During the Councils' two-year work plan, the network aimed to work on creating new partnerships between countries, organizations, & sustainable development advocates for the implementation of SDGs through the discussion of innovative solutions.
The objectives of the Councils were the following:
1. Identify factors which are inhibiting progress towards particular SDGs;
2. Find solutions to identified issues & develop a plan for the implementation of successful policies, programs, technologies and/or innovative service delivery mechanisms to resolve them;
3. Build a framework for knowledge sharing amongst multiple stakeholders, within and between countries, that will catalyse the Councils' vision of sustainability into the future.
The 'SDGs in Action' platform is a dedicated arena for experts in sustainable development and was one of the first global fora for the SDGs to be created in 2016. Since then, the platform grew to become synonymous with impact driven actions towards the SDGs. In 2018, the 12 Global Councils on SDGs were launched in an interdisciplinary network dedicated to promoting innovative thinking and creativity in the implementation of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda. In 2019, Leadership for achieving the goals, featured a combination of plenary sessions and Global Councils’ breakout sessions. It aimed to foster partnerships and cooperation among council members in their respective fields to support the implementation of specific goals. During December 2020, the first term of the Global Councils concluded under the theme “SDGs Global Councils: Preparing for the Decade of Action”, while the second term of the Global Councils on SDGs has been opened for self-nomination.
The 12 Global Councils on SDGs, each being chaired by a well-renowned figure, contributed to the global implementation of the SDGs. Their work plans had impact around the world – from creating multi-stakeholder platforms to enable the delivery of accessible, affordable & sustainable health solutions to ‘those left furthest behind’, to driving quality education through e-learning platforms for thousands of children, teachers, & indirect beneficiaries. Other Councils' work includes the development of ‘global best practices for gender balance (equality) tool kit’ led by the Vice-President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, in collaboration with the OECD. Honourable Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, led two distinctive programs called ‘Leadership4SDGs’, and Peace First. The former aims to support governments around the world to improve the delivery of SDGs using unique and peer-led leadership development programs, and the latter supporting a digital youth engagement platform to empower youth to create a just and peaceful world via digital tools, community support, start-up funding and more.
The second term of Global Councils on SDGs (2021-2023) opened in December 2020 with a call to self-nominations to the global society. Members from around the world nominated themselves to partake in the second term that will see a record number of Global Councils on SDGs drive impact towards the global goals. The formal inauguration will take place at the World Government Summit SDGs in Action platform, during Expo2020 Dubai. Expo2020 Dubai will commence on 1 October 2020, and close on 31 March 2021.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Global Councils on SDGs is a UAE-pioneered initiative to support the global implementation of the SDGs. Launched in February 2018 at the 'World Government Summit (WGS) - SDGs in Action' event, 12 interdisciplinary Global Councils commenced in their journey to promote innovative thinking and creativity in the implementation of the SDGs via global and cross-border collaboration. WGS become synonymous with the Global Councils. It provided an annual platform to synergize council work programs amd continue partnerships for the goals. The Councils further highlighted their work during SDGs fora, including the UN HLPF.
The composition of each Council is unique in that it includes a well-renowned chairperson & memberships of leaders & decision-makers from different sectors. FCSC served as secretariat and reported progress to the Councils' president.
What is the current status of your innovation?
In December 2020, the first Global Councils on SDGs (2018/20) was closed during the World Government Summit – SDGs in Action series. Themed ‘SDGs Global Councils: Preparing for the Decade of Action’, Councils presented their works & lessons learned during term 1. The lessons learned have been incorporated in the design & development of the term two framework.
Councils will have choose between two streams; (1) impact driven projects, or (2) white papers, policies, & frameworks. Furthermore, additional support from the UAE will be incorporated through appointing vice-chairs and a youth member to ensure capacity building for future decision makers. Focal points for each Council will further support a seamless engagement between the Council & the secretariat, in support to stakeholder management. A steering committee will advise & support the Council in their journey to successfully implement the projects in the champion countries.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The Councils created new partnerships between countries and organizations in the implementation of innovative solutions.
- Chair: High-level representative from government and international organizations
- Members: Interdisciplinary decision makers from governments, international organizations, academia and private sector across different countries
- Secretariat: Project Management by FCSC
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Government Officials: Official overseer, chairperson roles, members to councils, official spokespersons, annual event organizers & compiler of reports
Global Citizens: Members of the Councils & implementers
Companies: PPP, to ensure cross-sector collaboration
NGOs: Members to a number of councils
Youth: Engaging the future generations of decision makers
The Councils' 12 impact and beneficiaries included communities, students, teachers, decision makers, governments, and youth.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The 12 Global Councils on SDGs (2018/20) and their projects accelerated the implementation of the SDGs globally. Each Council had its unique methodology to drive impact and to measure it, whilst upscaling will take place through nine continuations of the Councils in term two of the Global Council on SDGs (2021/23).
An outcome example from term 1, 2018/20:
Global Council on SDG 4, in collaboration with Dubai Cares, launched META, an online-platform which remained accessible throughout the global pandemic with a virtual library offering 1,500 books and a developing online community. Several teacher preparation workshops were held in the lead to META's official launch in February 2021. The first workshops were held in Caacupé city with 46 teachers and the second in Yuty with 95 teachers. Approximately 300 teachers participated in workshops across various cities.
Challenges and Failures
Funding in support to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs halted the scaling of a number of projects. In 2019, the Global Councils on SDGs introduced the Finance Cluster Council, to drive financial support to programs and projects. The Council worked with many other bodies and explored ways to find funding, enabling many projects to be completed.
Conditions for Success
- Human and financial resources: A dedicated team to facilitate work plan programs, marketing, and communication, in support to the Councils. Private sector and philanthropist to support the Global Councils on SDGs through funding opportunities.
- Supporting infrastructure and services: Crowdsource infrastructure to support the financial element of the Councils to accelerate the implementation and impact across borders.
- Leadership and guidance: Council Chairpersons are diverse in nature, and leaders in their respective fields, contributing to an interdisciplinary, innovative, and creative network that can speed the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2030.
Globally, the Global Councils on SDGs works in parallel with other similar councils working in different spheres such as the Global Innovation Council by the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI).
1. Communication focal points for international projects are of the essence to ensure that clear messages are communicated and progress is tracked across the spectrum.
2. Identifying potential challenges and solutions is crucial.
3. Frameworks, reporting structures, and a centralized portal to update progress, can be of support to ensure a value driven outcome for all participants.
4. It is essential to align projects with international organizations' priorities and synchronize efforts to scale and enhance impact across borders.