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Mapping the Path to 2030: Policy Instruments for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

A GCSP Public Discussion

1 January 2016 represents the first day of a 15 year journey to realize the vision outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Agenda 2030. 

In association with:


GCSP - Maison de la paix

Please see the event summary below: 

On 3 February the GCSP, the School of International Futures (SOIF), and Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI) held an event on “Mapping the Path to 2030”, focusing on the policy instruments to realise the vision outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Agenda 2030.

Dr Gustav Lindstrom, Head of the Emerging Security Challenges Programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), chaired the event and by way of introduction identified three areas that will be essential in developing more effective processes during this 15 year journey; partnerships, inclusion and foresight.

The keynote address was delivered by Ms Gunilla Carlsson, former Minister of International Development Cooperation of Sweden and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Ms Carlsson acknowledged the importance of the SDGs in shaping the future of the world, as they are universal and should also be adaptive and inclusive. She reminded the audience of the opportune time of the event (beginning of 2016) and its location (Geneva), calling upon the international Geneva community to start playing a key role in instigating partnerships and dialogue. Ms Carlsson underlined the linkages between security and development while insisting on the importance of Goal 16 and its transformative nature.

Ms Catarina Tully, Co-Founder of SOIF in London, focused her remarks on the importance of developing a forward view on the goals. She said that strategic foresight is one of the most critical mechanisms for achieving the SDGs, explaining that it “can help civil servants and politicians leapfrog stages of governance and reach out and co-create ideas of policies with citizens”. These kinds of instruments should be used by everybody and they can benefit every country, including those suffering from conflict, experiencing weak rule of law or in crisis. Likewise, she reminded the audience about the existence of a variety of resources and tools that can be used to achieve these goals and that the immediate priority should be to start using them.

Dr Thania Paffenholz, Director of IPTI at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, called for adopting a realistic approach to achieving the SDGs, which includes the lessons learned from the past and achievable first steps. She raised questions that are crucial to answer at the beginning of this journey, including the  importance of understanding the capacity and readiness of each actor, defining what inclusivity means and therefore whom to hold accountable. Regarding the Geneva-based community, Dr Paffenholz called for a concerted approach where the first step should be to define a clear line of action: “What can we contribute in terms of the different capacities we have and to whom do we want to provide all this knowledge?”.

The subsequent exchanges with the audience highlighted the importance of local partnerships around a decentralized agenda that includes common denominators. The importance of Goal 16 was echoed several times as a cross-cutting goal that addresses a myriad of challenges and has the ability to address negatives dynamics in societies. On the question of the implementation of the SDGs as such, it was asserted that it is important to raise awareness among all communities and stakeholders in order to make them accountable and create a bottom-up approach.

The discussion demonstrated that achieving Agenda 2030 will require both looking back and forward and it will evolve around not only inclusivity and foresight but also taking an innovative, action-oriented approach.

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