Radically collaborating on the SDGs isn’t easy. Here are some challenges of multi-stakeholder collaboration that need solving.
Fear of the Unknown
Chris Jarvis, Co-founder and Senior Content Advisor at IMPACT2030
Getting to Action Faster
“I’m a Senior Advisor at Environment and Climate Change Canada and work on Canada’s climate negotiations team. I co-chair the Declaration on Carbon Pricing in the Americas – a voluntary regional initiative that commits national and subnational governments across the Americas to implement carbon pricing as a central economic and environmental policy tool. I’ve helped members of the Declaration to overcome an issue linked to collaboration on climate action.
In 2018, a working group was initiated as part of this Declaration, enabling collaboration among members to exchange their experiences and lessons learned and explore various challenges of carbon pricing. An issue that I encountered early on was in the development of the work plan for the working group. Specifically, I needed to figure out how to include and prioritize different members’ areas of interest, while also utilizing the strengths and experiences of each member. To overcome this challenge, the working group took its time – about 3 months – to develop a balanced work plan that reflects the needs of every member and makes them feel that their time and membership in the Declaration is worthwhile. Developing a work plan by consensus took patience, inclusiveness, dedication and flexibility, but it ensured a higher level of commitment to the Declaration since all members feel a degree of ownership.
However, in order to address climate change, we must act fast. My challenge is how can we develop priorities and leverage each member's strengths faster, while still maintaining high levels of commitment!”
- Martin Lajoie Senior Advisor at Environment and Climate Change Canada and Member of Canada’s Climate Negotiations Team
Keeping People Accountable
“As Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, the Climate Action Network (CAN-Rac) is a coalition of more than 116 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives. We work with all of our members and partners in the above-mentioned communities to deliver on progress on climate and energy issues across the Sustainable Development Goals notably by pushing for more ambitious climate action across all levels of government.
One of the challenges we face in collaborating around the SDGs relates to the differing levels of urgency and seriousness around the issues relevant to Agenda 2030. Whereas politicians and businesses will at least note the importance of taking action on climate change in an attempt to be accountable to voters, the same cannot be said for other issues such as homelessness or inequalities. When advocating for climate change, it becomes easier to use frameworks that resonate more with policy makers and the public such as the Paris Agreement or the Green New Deal, compared to the broader Agenda 2030 that has less teeth and to which it will be harder to hold politicians accountable for not taking action.”
- Nhattan Nguyen, Operations and Outreach Coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada
Creating a Share Language
“IMPACT2030 is the first private sector-led initiative that aims to align human capital investment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I have been involved with IMPACT2030 since its inception both within the organization and now as a Founding Partner representative. The incredible value IMPACT2030 brings is the collaborative cross-sector network of companies, nonprofit organizations, academia, member states and UN agencies looking to partner leveraging human capital investment.
While the potential is immense, the biggest challenge to collaboration is ensuring all actors are speaking the same language and avoiding their own sector’s jargon. Occasionally, the different languages sectors use can cause miscommunication in these networks, misleading actors to believe that there is not a partnership opportunity or alignment of goals, when there actually is. The SDGs help to address this challenge by giving IMPACT2030 network a common language and set of goals.
I’d love to have tools to help collaborators fully accept the SDGs as a common language assure that all actors are speaking the same language so that conversations don’t break down.”
- Christine Foster, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager in the professional services industry and Founding Partner representative for IMPACT2030
Maintaining High Levels of Communication and Engagement
Youth Climate Lab supports and builds youth-led policy projects and climate-friendly business ideas. We started two years ago with the idea of better connecting youth who work on UN climate policy processes and have grown to think about early stage climate entrepreneurship and on-the-ground work to achieve the SDGs.
As a small organization working on global problems, collaboration is both key to what we do and has been a huge point of learning. We collaborate with a Seychellois youth organization, SYAH-Seychelles, for much of our international climate work, and with other young people and various organizations in much of our on-the-ground work at COP. Something that’s key to my vision of how we work as a collaborative entity, particularly from an international position of privilege, is not always simply pushing our own approach or prescription and taking the time to listen and learn as we develop.
One of our biggest collaboration challenges on building intergeneration coalitions to address climate change problems is how to keep people from across the globe communicating and engaging with each other on high importance but low urgency issues. At the same time, many of those issues are far more urgent to some of our partners than to others.
- Seth Blum, International Projects Lead at Youth Climate Lab