This 25th of September is the 3rd anniversary of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In CONCORD we celebrate this anniversary by publishing good practices for the next four days on the implementation of  the 2030 Agenda. We have collected examples from across the European Union, where Member States and other stakeholders are pursuing the SDGs’ implementation in new and interesting ways. If the world is going to reach the SDGs by 2030 we need to keep inspire each other, share good and best practices and think of new innovative ways to reach our common goal of a sustainable future. This anniversary is therefore the perfect opportunity to share these encouraging examples. With this we hope to inspire each other and to kickstart the creative thinking on how to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development successfully.
Exactly one year ago CONCORD published a first general overview of how Member States are trying to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, examining trends across Europe (see also the campaign Blow the Candle). Here we learnt that while progress is quite uneven, with some countries running in front and others lagging behind, no country is doing everything perfectly, but many Member States and other stakeholders are doing certain things really well or innovatively.
Therefore, CONCORD asked its members all over Europe to provide good practices on how to implement the SDG in an inspiring way. 11 organisations were happy to share good practices from within their country. This resulted in 13 examples of good practices spanning from across Europe – north to south and east to west. To provide a better overview CONCORD divided these examples in four different categories:
In this category you will find three good practices on monitoring, accountability and review from EU Member States. Monitoring accountability and review is an important pillar of the 2030 Agenda – it is how we follow the progress of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and how we ensure the governments are living up to their responsibility for sustainable development. In this category you will find three good practices with very different approaches on how to monitor progress and hold governments to account.

Good Practice I  Denmark – Effective and inclusive partnerships in monitoring

What: The national statistical bureau, Statistic Denmark, has been given the mandate to monitor the implementation and realization of the Sustainable Development Goals in Denmark and thereby provide data on UN’s 232 global indicators to the UN global monitoring mechanism. To do this, Statistic Denmark has invited every interested actor to join a statistic and monitoring partnership on the SDGs to gain expert knowledge on the data needed to be delivered to measure the indicators as well as expert knowledge on the quality on the data. The participants in the partnership are civil society organizations, private sector representatives, municipalities, representatives of Danish academia and many more.

Why is this inspiring: With this initiative Statistic Denmark shows what an effective partnership can look like; inviting different kind of people with different interest, but with expertise on monitoring, data and statistic within their own area of work. First by having two information-meetings about its process and the role of partners, and second through an open hearing on their draft material. In total this process, Statistic Denmark has within three months created new data and brought in even more quality in the data, which has lifted the number of indicators that Statistic Denmark are now able to report on. To follow the work a public online platform has been launched. The platform will be updated with new data every year before the High Level Political Forum(HLPF).  The next step for Statistic Denmark is to continually meet with new partners to bring in new expertise on indicators missing data or missing quality in the data.

Visit the platform HERE

Good Practice II  Germany – International Peer Review of the German Sustainability Strategy

What: The German government subjected its Sustainability Strategy (GSS) to a high-level international Peer Review. The strategy was first adopted in 2002, and has since been updated regularly, but in 2017 it was revised to accommodate the implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2018 for the third time after 2009 and 2013 a group of international former politicians, scientists and civil society representatives reviewed the strategy. The international peers chaired by Helen Clark, former head of UNDP and former New Zealand prime minister, consulted with civil society, trade unions and business in preparation of the review. Some important demands from civil society found its way into the final review document. The international peer review on the GSS was presented in June 2018.

Why is this inspiring: Even with a Government that is well on track with its SDG-implementation, a review like this can show that work done is far from sufficient to reach the ambitious goals of the Agenda 2030 and to tackle the pressing global challenges ahead such as pervasive poverty, social inequalities and climate change. Feedback form outside experts can contribute to monitoring and accountability of the implementation efforts of governments. It can point at blind spots and slowing progress in a cooperative way. It can also facilitate peer learning as an essential elements for improving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on the national level. The review gave some good recommendations, and it is now up to the German government to take the recommendations into consideration and act decisively, especially on those which refer to the most pressing issues.

Read the full report HERE

Good Practice III  Austria – An audit on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Austria

What: From June to September 2017, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) carried out an audit of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Austria spanning from 2016 through 2017. Among others it aimed at assessing the legal framework conditions, the national recognition of the SDGs, the responsibilities of the Federal Government, the coordination across all levels of government, the implementation plan  and the monitoring of progress. The conclusions of the audit were critical. It included critique on the lack of ambition for Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the High Level Political Forum, the lack of make the results on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda publicly accessible as well as failing to report to Parliament. Furthermore, the audit shows that the contributions of individual ministries varied in terms of quality and scope regarding how the SDGs were addressed. The report also includes 25 concrete recommendations for what could be done to improve the Austrian implementation of the 2030 Agenda

Why is this inspiring: The Court of Audit made an independent and critical evaluation, which holds a mirror to the government and provides concrete recommendations for which next steps could be taken to move Austria’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda forward. In preparation of  the report, many different stakeholders, amongst them civil society organisations, where consulted. The report provides a useful tool for stakeholders to put pressure on their government and show how Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) can play a crucial role in holding governments accountable for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The report can be found HERE
In this category you will find three good practices on how to build new partnerships around the common goal of sustainable development. Some of the good practices build coalitions across sectors, while others establish new ways of working within civil society. All three good practices were established because there was a need for working in new ways and with new partners on the 2030 Agenda.

Good Practice I  Estonia – Cross sectorial coalition for Sustainable Development

WhatIn spring 2018 the Estonian Coalition for Sustainable Development was created. This coalition unites non-governmental organizations, private sector enterprises and state institutions in order to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Coalition came out with a good-will memorandum to show their commitment in helping Estonia reach Sustainable Development Goals, with their expertise and actions, which combines civil society’s knowledge on how to build a more sustainable society, the private sector’s economic power to move towards it and policy makers interested in contributing to a good governance model.
The goals of the Coalition includes rising awareness on sustainable development, give input for policy makers, contribute to monitoring developments and enhance cooperation. The work of the Coalition is planned to be based on meetings, knowledge exchange workshops, roundtables, trainings, shared media campaigns, studies, shared advocacy etc.

Why is this inspiring: Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation (AKÜ) saw a necessity to build a cross-sectoral network to bring knowledge, decisions making and will power under one umbrella, so that it is beneficial for all. A multi-stakeholder coalition, like the Estonian Coalition for Sustainable Development, is inspiring because it brings the different perspectives, knowledge and skills from across sectors together on the common agenda for a more sustainable society.

Visit the website of the coalition HERE

Good Practice II  Portugal – National CSO Coalition for Sustainable Development

WhatIn 2014 a portugees coalition of national civil society umbrella organizations was created, focusing on the preparation of a common position on the 2030 Agenda. This coalition has members that represent a broad group of different CSOs – NGDOs, Local Development, Gender CSOs, Trade Unions, Youth CSOs, Environment CSOs.
The coalition have organized two national consultation processes that included online questionnaires and local workshops where many different local organizations participated and gave their views and contributions regarding their expectation on the 2030 Agenda and its implementation and monitoring. These processes resulted in two reports that were very important to reinforce the Portuguese CSO advocacy work and mark a clear and unified position. The report presented in 2017 was referred as a good practice in the Portuguese Volunteer National Review at High Level Political Forum  presented in 2017.

Why is this inspiring: This is the first time that different umbrella organizations are working together and the the SDGs have given a common ground to base this collaborative work. In June 2018, the members of the coalition signed a memorandum of understanding that reinforces their commitment to continue the collaborative work we have been doing. The coalition will continue to organize different activities all over the country, reinforcing our role as one of the relevant stakeholders regarding the 2030 Agenda.  

The reports are available HERE and HERE

Good Practice III  Spain – A new civil society platform for a sustainable change

WhatFuturo en Común (FeC) is an innovative cross-sectorial dialogue platform in Spain, working towards sustainable development, human rights and the strengthening of the civic democratic space. For FeC the 2030 Agenda is a framework that should put people’s rights and the care of the planet at the center, and by constructing a common, rigorous and transformative vision of the Agenda 2030, as a political space for change, the platform has attracted a widespread and significant sectoral representation of the Spanish civil society. The FeC platform is comprised of more than 50 organizations with different focuses. It works using a systemic, cross-cutting approach, to generate proposals for policy change, awareness-raising and mobilization. A good example of the work of the platform is the report “A transformative 2030 Agenda for people and for the planet. Proposals for political action”. The report was backed by a relevant arch of institutions with the result of provoking high-level commitments on 2030 Agenda within the Spanish Government.

Why is this inspiring: Civil society has a crucial role in the promotion of a transformative Agenda – domestically and our role in the world. The FeC platform in Spain shows how a cross sectorial civil society working together to deliver ambition and change, including at government level, on the 2030 Agenda, is possible.

Find the full report HERE
In this category you will find two good practices on how Parliament has gotten involved in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two good practices gives two very different examples of ways to involve Parliament. One of the good practices is a campaign, that shows how to involve individual members of parliament in the Sustainable Development Goals, while the other one shows how to formalize work on the 2030 Agenda in Parliament.

Good Practice I  Denmark – Implementing the SDGs in the Standing Committées in the Danish Parliament

What: In March 2017 an all-party coalition on the Sustainable Development Goals, The 2030-Network, was formed in the Danish Parliament. The 2030-Network that has 46 members from all nine parties in the parliament, is supported by the Danish CONCORD-member Globalt Fokus, which functions as the secretariat of the Network and by an independent panel of actors from NGDO, other civil society organisations, unions, foundations, private sector and many more. The Network that started as an informal Network, sent a letter to all chairmen and -women of the Parliamentary Committées in May 2018. This letter encouraged the integration of the SDGs in formal standing committées in the Parliament. By doing this, the discussion of how to implement and reach the SDGs will move from an informal to a formal setting in the Danish Political system. Several standing committées have now debated the integration of the SDGs and some have even formed sub-committées to figure out how the integration can be made.

Why is this inspiring: The letter has created a lively debate on the integration of the SDGs in Parliament. It shows that even though you start off by debating the integration of the SDGs and how to reach them in an informal way, it can – over time – change opinions and agendas, which eventually will spill-over into a formal decision-making political system.

Visit the website for the 2030-Network HERE

Good Practice II  The Netherlands – ‘Adopt an SDG’ campaign

What: In the Netherlands, the ‘Adopt an SDG’ campaign was launched on 25 September 2017, the 2nd anniversary of the SDGs with the purpose to engage newly elected Members of the Dutch Parliament in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the campaign the member of Parliament (MP) select their favorite SDGs and through social media it is broadcasted how the campaign team handover canvases of the selected SDGs to the MPs. After the adoption of SDGs the MPs are continuously provided with information, expertise, research and policy advice in advance of parliamentary debates by a coalition of approx. forty civil society organisations, working on almost all social, economic and environmental issues that are addressed in Agenda 2030. With twenty-four out of 150 parliamentarians (almost one out of every six) having adopted SDGs, the campaign now covers MPs from both coalition and opposition parties and also from different standing committees in the Parliament.

Why is this inspiring: So far the campaign has visibly contributed to more SDG awareness among Dutch parliamentarians. Some of the MPs refer to ‘their’ SDG(s) in debates with Ministers and Secretaries of State, and ask the government to propose concrete actions to reach the SDGs, or hold the government to account when it fails to act (sufficiently). When they do so, the campaign broadcasts this via social media channels. We also link up the MPs with journalists, which has led to several series of online interviews about parliamentary action towards the SDGs.
The campaign is powered by Partos, the Dutch association for international cooperation, and two of its members, Woord en Daad and Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS).

More info (in Dutch) via twitter, SDGNederland and Partos

In this category you will find five good practices on how governments have created inclusive and participative processes while working on the 2030 Agenda. In this category there are both good practices from countries that are frontrunners and countries that are just beginning their work on sustainable development. Together the five good practices show how important it is to include civil society and other actors – whether it is about presenting Voluntary National Reviews at the High Level Political Forum or working on national action plans.

Good Practice I  France – A quick turn around

What: After two years of uncertainty and hesitation, the French government officially announced early 2018 that a national roadmap dedicated to SDGs’ implementation would be drawn up by mid-2019. This comes head of the French Voluntary National Review(VNR) at the High Level Political Forum in the summer of 2019. In order to engage more stakeholders in this process and prepare for next year’s moments related to SDGs implementation, the government invited all kind of stakeholders to join the official French delegation at the July 2018 HLPF. This resulted in the biggest national delegation at the time, with representatives from Government, Parliament, research institutions and think tanks, local authorities, NGOs and other CSOs, businesses, trade union, higher education.

Why is this inspiring: With a lot of countries not having any space for consulting their civil society on sustainable development or other kind of matters, this inclusive process has shown that improvement in working with civil society in regards to the 2030 Agenda can happen quickly. Moreover, the HLPF in itself is quite criticized as an official body for being too restrictive for CSOs’ representatives, both logistically and politically. Civil Society being invited to be part of an official delegation enables to balance these restrictions to some extent.

Good Practice II  Germany – Anchoring Education for Sustainable Development

What: The German government supports the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing the UNESCO-World Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. The NAP was devised by a government nominated multi-stakeholder expert group who organize as the National Platform on Education for Sustainable Development. Civil society was included in the preparation of the NAP through working groups. Furthermore there was an online consultation process addressing interested citizens. During the consultation over 700 recommendations for concrete measures to be taken to promote sustainable development education were made. Over 8000 assessments of the draft NAP were posted of which some have been considered in the following revision of the action plan. The aims of NAP to contribute to the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the German Sustainability Strategy (GSS). It comprises 130 targets and 349 recommendations for action to structurally anchor Education for Sustainable Development in the whole German educational system.

Why is this inspiringThe National Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development initiated by the German government can be perceived as a positive and effective measure to raise awareness for sustainable development through the cross-sectional involvement of the educational sector. The German government seems to put Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) well into practice with its institutional approach of including all stakeholders in the process of implementing a well-rounded and comprehensive concept of Education on Sustainable Development.

Good Practice III  Latvia – Working for an inclusive national process

What: In Latvia many Civil Society Organisations including the CONCORD member LAPAS (Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation) has worked actively on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for years, but  the government process remained closed to them. When it was decided that Latvia will submit the Voluntary National Reviews(VNR) in 2018 the LAPAS with members worked actively to engage politicians and the support of the Parliamentary Committee on Sustainable Development was received. This opened the process to NGOs that were then included in the non-formal group drafting VNR. Active work of LAPAS was recognised by the government and representative of LAPAS was included in the official delegation to The High Level Political Forum.
LAPAS aimed to involve more NGOs in this process but due to low awareness and time limits the activity was low. Therefore the post-VNR process is seen of high importance.

Why is this inspiringEven though an inclusive process haven’t been at the center of the Latvian Governments work on the 2030 Agenda, the work of LAPAS and likeminded NGOs shows that advocacy directed towards parliament can have an effect in creating a space for civil society to participate in the national work surrounding the 2030 Agenda.

Read the Spotlight Report HERE


Good Practice IV  Slovak Republic – A democratic process of choosing national priorities

What: It took some time until Slovakia started to take the Agenda 2030 seriously, and first in 2017 did the work begin. The process of selecting the Slovak national priorities started in a very democratic way with the initial source of information being Public Opinion Polls. The process continued with a participatory process with selected NGOs, Private sector actors and other representatives, lead by Slovak Academy of Sciences.  The priorities were then adopted by the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic, which is responsible for the national SDGs implementation and Agenda 2030 strategy. The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic will start working on the National Strategy on Agenda 2030 in September 2018 and with the Office begin open to collaborations, not only with the Private sector actors, but all the relevant stakeholders, the hope is that the participatory process will continue.

Why is this inspiring: What is very interesting is how the Agenda 2030 national priorities were identified, with a very democratic initial process and continued with the participatory process mentioned above. Although the cooperation could have been even better and participatory process could have been opened to a wider population, it is very positive it didn’t take place behind the closed doors at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office.

Good Practice V  Sweden – A participative process all the way – HLPF

What: Sweden’s delegation to the annual High Level Political Forum (HLPF), a mechanism set up for overseeing and review of the progress of the Agenda 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals,  has in all delegation, so far, included civil society, academia, parliament and the private sector in the official delegation. All actors in the delegation are part of the delegation on equal terms and are included in breakfast meetings and e-mail lists and can contribute to Sweden’s official statements and analysis. The government also invited civil society that travel to New York and HLPF on its own accreditation to different meetings. A head of the HLPF in 2017, when Sweden reported its Voluntary National Review(VNR), the government invited different actors to dialog and hearings to give space for input to the official VNR. When Sweden presented the VNR at the HLPF in 2017 a youth representative as well as representative from a local municipality and the private sector was part of the official presentation together with the minister of administration.

Why is this inspiringIn the light of a shrinking or closing civic space for civil society in many countries the multilateral foras must ensure safe and inclusive space for different part of civil society, this inclusive government driven process in Sweden is an inspiring example.