In 2015, UN member states adopted Agenda 2030, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ranging from economic (“No Poverty”) to environmental (“Climate Action”) to social (“Gender Equality”), these 17 goals are to be achieved — not in isolation, but as an integrated package -- over the next 15 years. Implementing the SDGs at the national level will be daunting. Countries must consider not only how the SDGs align with their national priorities, but also how to achieve synergies and minimize trade-offs across potentially competing goals. Governments cannot achieve the SDGs alone. They must collaborate not only across ministries and agencies, but also with the private sector, civil society, and international partners to move the agenda forward. With a commitment to help countries pursue all 17 goals, UN leaders have to ask how they can help countries manage conflicting stakeholder interests that might stall progress on the 2030 Agenda.
In collaboration with the UN System Staff College (UNSSC), CBI designed a new skill building course, Stakeholder Engagement and Consensus Building for Sustainable Development, for senior-level UN, government officials, and other development stakeholders. The highly interactive course offers a framework of principles and strategies for consensus building: how to frame sustainable development goals, engage key stakeholders, implement joint fact-finding and analysis, negotiate agreements, and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives. Participants apply the framework in the workshop through case studies, role plays, and clinics on participants’ own challenges. They take home not only the framework, but also skills honed through practice and action plans for their own ongoing work.
CBI and UNSSC first delivered the course to UN officials in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It featured such innovative pedagogical elements as real-time interaction with case study protagonists via videoconference. CBI and UNSSC are now providing tailored versions of the course to national governments focused on specific sustainable development challenges and bringing together stakeholders who can apply the frameworks and skills jointly to those challenges. Participants say that the course is highly relevant and engaging, and that the frameworks and skills they are learning are very useful in their work with stakeholders. CBI looks forward to future course offerings and to contributing to effective collaboration in pursuit of the SDGs.