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Highlights from UNGA: Topics for Foundations to Consider

During UNGA 72, the SDG Philanthropy Platform hosted 3 major side events that explored the role of philanthropy and government to achieve the SDGs. Throughout the event discussions, several themes emerged as focus areas for foundations to consider as they engage in the SDGs:

Local vs. Global Engagement for the SDGs

Several speakers commented on the connectivity between global plans and local action. While the SDGs present a broad framework for global development, local governments and stakeholders must take ownership of these goals to pave the way for change. Global plans can provide resources and a vision, but local stakeholders have the key political insight and cultural knowledge to enact sustainable change at the community level.

There was also notable discussion on the power dynamics between funders and local communities. It is important to recognize that philanthropies have influence beyond their dollars; and it is critical foundations are aware of that impact and where it is directed. There were some suggestions of creating new due diligence measures to ensure that funders are measuring their fiscal and social impact appropriately.

Using the SDGs as a Living Framework to Guide Philanthropic Giving

As many foundations have already started to do, the SDGs must be treated as a new paradigm for grant giving. The SDGs should not be treated as static goals on paper, they should be actively embedded in the giving strategy of philanthropies and drive how the foundations are operating. The SDGs are dynamic, and should be integrated and fitted to programs and plans.

Partnering with the Private Sector

The private sector is a key stakeholder for the SDGs, and many speakers credited private companies for actively embracing the SDGs as a key element of their long-term plans. Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Deloitte are examples of businesses who are actively integrating the SDGs into their strategic plans. In the future, the SDG Philanthropy Platform will continue to look to partner with private sector organizations who want to collaborate with the Platform.

Achieving Efficiencies & Scale

Many speakers were interested in questions surrounding how we can de-risk social investments into the SDGs. Some speakers urged foundations to more deeply and critically evaluate cost structures to reduce costs to make programs more lean and sustainable. Reducing costs and designing programs for sustainability will be critical in reducing the massive funding gap for the SDGs.

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