Foundations need to help narrow great gaps in SDGs

Paula Park

Advocates are championing the agreement behind the Sustainable Development Goals. But let’s be frank about what’s missing:

  • A committed source of funding the estimated $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion annual costs.
  • Accountability – the agreement includes no enforcement mechanism.
  • Direct incentives to governments to pursue goals their own citizens have not formally endorsed.

For many writing in this issue, however, the SDGs are the kind of challenge for which philanthropy was invented. In fact, 78 per cent of those polled by Alliance strongly agree that philanthropy should play some role in SDG implementation.

Our special feature articles sketch out mechanisms for collaboration on the SDGs or highlight work foundations already do that parallels the SDGs. One gets the feeling we’re off to the races.

This race, humanity needs to win.

As Bhekinkosi Moyo, one of our special feature editors, told delegates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September: ‘People will not judge us by the adoption of this Agenda, but by its implementation.’

Alliance would like to be a part of the race for solutions and will continue the discussion on the SDGs for the next few months on our blog, via a debate we started in October.

We have also started a few new features in this issue of the magazine: the first, the Alliance exclusive survey. We’ve polled philanthropy leaders and foundation staff from all over the world to capture their views on the SDGs. We will survey our readers once every quarter, to develop a database of opinions and support our opinion articles with data.

We’ve also published our first beneficiary interview. We speak to four teenage girls who are beneficiaries of and final decision‑makers over who will benefit from $2 million in With and For Girls (WFG) grants, sponsored by eight foundations.

The debate over feedback loops in the March issue challenged all of us to speak to those who are supposed to benefit from foundations’ programmes. UK WFG panellist Jade Adeoba says it succinctly: ‘If you are trying to have an influence on a specific kind of people, you’re going to need an input from that specific kind of person.’

Alliance is on the move, changing to make our coverage more compelling and helpful to you. In the March issue we will be covering migration, an issue that affects every country on earth and has reached crisis stage in the Middle East and Europe.

For more discussion on the SDG debate, listen to our Alliance Audio podcast.

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