Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash

This post is an excerpt from BCCIC’s shadow report: Where Canada Stands – Vol II.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) are crucial for providing a voice to advocate and unify those who are being left behind. Charles notes the importance of CSOs as intermediaries between the SDGs and citizens, and notes the opportunity for CSOs to create spaces for citizens to be engaged and empowered, and to mobilize broad public passion for sustainability and development. By organizing as a coalition network, CSOs provide an even more powerful voice that can harness the interconnected expertise of organizations across Canada into overarching initiatives and strategies that address the collective purpose of the 2030 Agenda.

Community Foundations Canada, along with CCIC, the International institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), spearheaded the development of Alliance 2030, a network of organizations, institutions, and individuals from coast to coast to coast that use the 2030 Agenda as a framework to work on issues around youth engagement, diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The 64 Canadian civil society member organizations commit to work creatively and collaboratively at a local and international level. JP Bervoets, Vice President of Community Foundations Canada, states that while SDG implementation in Canada should be driven by grassroots organizations, there still needs to be an adjusted top down approach for community members to collectively localize the SDGs. Given the funding challenges often felt by CSOs, Bervoets sees philanthropy from foundations and the private sector as a means to unlocking the momentum for regional and local governments to increase capacity to generate solutions, and to reach out to communities domestically and globally. To support such innovative approaches to multi stakeholder partnerships between the private and public sector, the federal and provincial government must create policies that will encourage philanthropic endeavours from the private sector.

The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC) brought together representatives from across academia, civil society, different levels of government, Indigenous communities, the private sector and youth at Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals, the first-ever multi-stakeholder symposium in Canada dedicated to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The symposium set a foundation for how all stakeholders can work together to use the 2030 Agenda as a framework and common language, creating better organizations in a better world. Key findings from the symposium identified that though some efforts are underway to implement the 2030 Agenda, the Government of Canada has taken limited action to date and there is a need for the federal government to demonstrate greater leadership, raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda, carry out widespread, inclusive and participatory consultations with Canadians on national priorities and how Canada can best implement the SDGs, outline national priorities, and begin building partnerships for a “whole-of-society” approach to implementation. The conversation continued with the Together 2018 Symposium in November 2018.

The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) brings together leading businesses from across Canada to build the capacity of the Canadian corporate sector in achieving the SDGs. The network is dedicated to assisting and empowering over 150 Canadian organizations by facilitating dialogue, sharing best practices, and fostering peer-to-peer learning between companies and stakeholders. With existing multi stakeholder partnerships such as these in place, there is a natural fit for the federal and provincial governments to step in to support the networks and leverage their expertise as tools to achieve the goals.

Internationally, networks for CSOs and stakeholders around the world are critical for fostering partnerships. Coalitions such as Together 2030 provide a global platform and space for CSOs and other partners and stakeholders to push for action on the 2030 Agenda by providing support for capacity building initiatives.