We are living in a global world which is changing dramatically, and at a positively dizzying pace. The solution to many problems will be found in a network of mutual relationships based on shared interests, as well as social, political cultural and environmental factors. Today, differences in language, approach, and knowledge, as well as disagreements over basic principles make it difficult to reach consensual solutions, and even serve to increase the lack of trust between various sectors. Government ministries sometimes pull in directions other than towards solutions. NGOs in civil society often work in isolated niches, based on available budgets, and often do not adopt a synergistic approach with other organizations or with the government.
Agenda 2030 – The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – is a global program comprised of 17 new goals (SDGs) and their implementation in 169 different measurable objectives, by the year 2030. The program was created in the largest participatory consultation process ever undertaken by the UN, was ratified unanimously by 193 member states, including Israel, and constitutes a broad, global conceptual framework through which to promote cooperative multi-sectoral initiatives. It is seen in the world as the rising paradigm to guide development in the 21st century. Currently, Israel lags behind many states who have already invested efforts in integrating the goals into public policy, but there has been some progress made in the preparations the government is making regarding several of the goals: in June, 2018, the Israeli Prime Minister created an inter-ministerial task force to coordinate Israel’s activities relating to the SDGs, and to prepare a progress report regarding Israel’s implementation of the SDGs to be presented at the UN in July, 2019.
The need for a shared framework of different social change organizations to work together on large issues, such as reducing poverty, gender equality, promoting health, nutritional security, workers’ rights, environmental protection and more, has led us at the Heschel Center to join forces with the Jewish-Arab feminist organization, Itach-Maaki, and the Civil Leadership umbrella organization to take the lead in promoting work around the SDGs in civil society.
We see a number of opportunities here for the Israeli civil society:
Cooperative ventures – using a single overarching program to help coordinate activities among different organizations;
Influencing government policy – the SDGs represent a global leverage point to promote social agendas and influence government policy in these areas;
Resource development – The SDGs can help attract funding from international and local bodies interested in promoting the shared goals of the program.
On November 6, we hosted an event with our partners for 130 CEOs of major civil society organizations. The SDG framework and the opportunities it provides were at the core of the seminar. Among the different parts of the seminar were a panel with representatives of the Japanese, British, Irish and Colombian embassies who spoke about their challenges and the approaches they took to use the SDG framework to make positive change.
There will be a follow up to the event where we plan to use this framework to encourage the Israeli government to adopt policies that advance our society and deal with a challenging future.
This important project was made possible thanks to the support of the Heinrich Boell Stiftung.