The Global Forum for National SDG Advisory Bodies is a new platform for National Councils for Sustainable Development and similar multi-stakeholder bodies. As a focal point of expertise, good practice, capacity building, and cooperation, the organizer’s pledge to foster co-creation and sharing of issue-based collective knowledge, to identify common grounds, and support context-sensitive learning for impactful national sustainable development policy-making.
Its membership will benefit by gaining the expertise needed to be positioned to constructively support their respective governments in achieving the 2030 Agenda. Moreover, governments will benefit from a more direct route to knowledge about options and solutions, and to be positioned to act faster and in partnerships, where applicable. SDG-delivery will furthermore be accelerated through institutional capacity building for national SDG Councils and similar bodies that might help ensure continuity and empowerment of each institution where this is needed for national SDG-delivery.
In 2020 we enter a new ‘Decade of Action,’ wherein the HLPF, national governments, and stakeholders need to speed-up activities and deliver towards implementing the SDGs by 2030. It has been widely acknowledged that one way to accelerate those activities would be the creation of regional civil society hubs to enhance the participation of all stakeholders, both at regional forums and the global level (E/HLPF/2019/8 para 64).
To that end, the establishment the Global Forum for National SDG Advisory Bodies will provide members entry into a broad and ever-growing range of bi- and multilateral exchanges through referencing what works, and what does not, elsewhere. The Forum will add value to the individual efforts of members, and through agile and ad hoc collective knowledge creation foster new momentum in support of national sustainable development policymaking.
Beyond fostering collective knowledge generation, SDG-delivery will be accelerated through institutional capacity building for national SDG Councils and similar bodies. Currently, such bodies do not exist in all countries; those that do exist show a wide variety of institutional arrangements and levels of interaction with and impact on governmental policy processes. Studies indicate that the presence of a council or similar body positively impacts the quality, accelerates the pace, and strengthens the legitimacy of sustainable development policy implementation. They also show that the diversity of such bodies is determined by national and cultural context, and is in part their sustainability.
Overseen by a board of directors, the Forum will operate through Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future as the secretariat, providing the services as outlined above. The initiators will prepare the business plan and governing-structure. Initially staffed by one full-time operative, the secretariat will take on additional staff and ad-hoc resources as funding grows. In-kind contributions, to be both effective and sustainable, have been offered by founding partners. The Board and founding members will regularly evaluate the impact of the Forum, and re-arrange design, modalities, and the workplan as needed and as the Forum’s reach and impact grow.
An institutionalized evidence-based multi-stakeholder advisory body such as the Global Forum will add value to its members and thereby strengthen their efforts to accelerate SDG implementation nationally and regionally. By strengthening and connecting existing bodies, and supporting the emergence of new bodies, the Forum’s founders pledge to foster co-creation and sharing of issue-based collective knowledge between these bodies, identify common grounds, and support context-sensitive learning for impactful national SD policymaking.
The Forum will be unique in its easily accessible and relevant knowledge sharing, facilitating entry-points and pathways on SDG-delivery through trustworthy partnerships. Members can improve performance and clout by learning from and utilizing experience from elsewhere, and with that be better positioned to constructively support their respective governments in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The Forum will also elevate the impact of the collective of national SDG advisory bodies in SD policy-making across other SDG-relevant networks. Where the momentum of the high ambitions of the 2030 Agenda has to be maintained through intensification of concrete, meaningful and accelerative action, the Forum allows for a pool of knowledge and experience of practitioners in all kind of contexts, and to build capacity for inclusive advisory bodies to support governments’ national and local sustainable policy-making and bring to bear the collective knowledge in international policy processes.
Early roadmap, coinciding with the HLPF second cycle:
• Canvass the landscape of councils and similar bodies that advise SDG-implementation and engage them.
• Seek endorsement from councils and similar bodies and their governments to become Forum members.
• Produce a ‘living’ document reflecting the needs or changing needs of councils and similar platforms, laying out good practices.
• Identifying shareware options, and shape the modality of the Forum to effectively customize the mentoring and advisory services, offered to those seeking it.
• Institutional capacity building through joint learning for continuity of SDG implementation, and addressing emerging issues as determined by National Councils and similar bodies.
• Inform the HLPF and broader international community on progress and action catalyzed by the Forum contributing to reducing the distance to the target.
The benefit for governments includes a more direct route to possible options and solutions, and to be positioned to act faster and in partnerships, where applicable, based on collaborative knowledge from practitioner members of the Forum. SDG Units and similar bodies, as they are being set up in the context of Voluntary National Reviews, may include participatory processes and thus, might want to join or collaborate with the Forum. The Forum will facilitate and improve the work of the mandated bodies while abstaining from acting as a political body in its own right.
Intended to be a durable and effective partnership, the Global Forum will actively contribute to processes and actions in the context of the next four-year cycle of the HLPF and the national voluntary reviews process.