A reflection essay from Together|Ensemble 2023, Canada’s national conference on the Sustainable Development Goals

One of the topics that emerged frequently during the 2023 Together|Ensemble event was the importance of intersectional and innovative approaches to sustainable development. The complex nature of the challenges sustainable development presents at home and abroad was at the center of the discussion.

The room where the first day of this three-day event held at Carleton University was filled with high-level experts who came from various fields and sectors. There were Members of Parliament, advisors, executives, professors, fellows, and directors. I sat down with some of those experts at a roundtable where we discussed one of the four themes for the break-out

Hearing from these subject-matter experts, it became clear that such collaborative spaces are necessary to navigate the complexity of the issues Canada is facing in achieving its agenda. This complexity stems from the intersectionality of the issues at hand. Whether it is economic growth, poverty reduction, gender equality, healthcare improvement, or any of the other goals we are collectively trying to achieve, it is evident that a multi-stakeholder approach is necessary to tackling the different dimensions of these issues.

By engaging different sectors and stakeholders, we are fostering collaboration and cooperation. This opens more doors and opportunities for innovation. As we move towards the second half of implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda, Canada needs to acknowledge that intersectionality is at the core of sustainable development, making it is essential that we ensure
efforts are inclusive, comprehensive, and cooperative.

To address the complexity of global and domestic challenges, we must embrace intersectionality and acknowledge the interconnection between the key issues facing sustainable development. By adopting integrated approaches, we can effectively connect the dots between sectors, stakeholders, and goals, fostering collaboration and creating space for innovation. Innovation offers tremendous potential for transformative change, enabling us to find novel solutions and accelerate progress towards implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda.

A multi-stakeholder approach allows different actors, such as government officials, civil society organizations, private sector entities, academics, and communities, to come together, share expertise, resources, responsibilities, work towards common goals, and come up with innovative problem-solving approaches. The implementation of sustainable development initiatives and programs requires not only ideas, but also substantial financial, technical, and human resources. A collaborative approach enables the mobilization of diverse resources.

During her presentation, the Honorable Anita Vandenbeld said, “There can be no peace without sustainable development, and no sustainable development without peace.” This peace can be fostered by listening to our counterparts, colleagues, and learning from their experience and expertise. The SDGs are interconnected and require collective action. No single stakeholder or sector can single-handedly address the complex challenges outlined by the goals. If we want to accelerate Canada’s progress towards achieving the 2030 vision for the SDGs, we need to acknowledge that the complexity of the issues at hand necessitates collaboration.


About the Author

Luna Noofoory is a second-year master’s student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University specializing in international development policy.