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Aug 21, 2023
Academy of Givers

What does SDGs mean? Where does the concept come from? What's the link with Philanthropy?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute the centre of a historic agreement signed in 2015 by member states of the United Nations. That agreement was named “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (often referred to as simply the “2030 Agenda”) and constituted a universal call to end poverty, secure justice, and protect the planet for future generations by the year 2030. The 17 SDGs replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which started a global effort in the year 2000 to tackle the growing issue of poverty.

All nations and all sectors of society can and should contribute to solutions to such global problems; not just government, but also business, civil society, academia, the media, and, crucially, philanthropy.

The 17 SDGs represent global concerns that apply to all countries, and they do not just focus on the needs of people living today, but also on those of future generations. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that all countries are different, and each country needs to tailor its progress according to its own conditions and priorities.

The concept of Sustainable Development rests on three pillars: economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Each of the 17 Goals has a set of targets, or narrower objectives that fall under that goal, and indicators that are used to evaluate progress toward the targets.

The SDGs have been shown to achieve the larger goals philanthropy cares about.

The SDGs prompt deep thinking and action on systems change. Indeed, SDG n. 17 explicitly calls for partnership from all sectors of society to achieve the whole SDG agenda, thus people from different sectors can better communicate and philanthropists are finding new allies among nonprofits, businesses, the UN, and governments at all levels. Working with others can create more lasting impact.

By exploring how different solutions may play out in the long run, philanthropists and businesses can better understand the long-term ramifications of their strategies, being able to see beyond individual projects and collaborate with others to have a greater impact on the issues that most concern them.

Partnership with governments and institutions is also a key component. Although the SDGs are not legally binding, every member state of the United Nations is committed to fulfilling them by the year 2030, and public entities are willing to collaborate and make use of their resources to achieve their goals.

Overall, philanthropy has a vital role in the SDGs, offering a wide range of resources, including reputation and key relationships. Through grants, operating programs, and impact investments, they can very well leverage to fulfil the SDGs.

The SDGs can be a guiding tool for any business and philanthropist looking to contribute and improve the economic, social and environmental aspects of society. In Malta, specifically, some aspects of the SDG guidelines are often overlooked, and some issues are being addressed over others. Therefore,it is paramount that philanthropic actors in the Maltese context address the current gaps and work toward solving the issues that are being neglected.

If you are interested in knowing more about the topic of SDGs and Philanthropy, stay tuned for the next Academy of Givers’ workshop on September 19th!