Philanthropy and Sustainable Development: Our Role as Interlocutors for Good

October 26, 2016 Christine Newman

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected” – an inspiring thought on how we will achieve the formidable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is how Natalia Kanem, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), ended her keynote presentation for the MicroEdge Day at bbcon.

Though we are still in the “morning” part of our journey towards the SDGs, Dr. Kanem painted a picture of how we will keep the clock ticking to get to the “afternoon”.  Namely, Dr. Kanem highlighted how the SDGs are goals for everybody – developed and developing countries alike – and that success depends on global involvement. By increasing understanding globally, turning information into knowledge and hopefully wisdom, a true dialogue can be had regardless of where people are sitting around the table.

Dr. Kanem reflected on how the SDGs must encompass development in all its forms – economic, social, environmental, political – so that new knowledge can influence and inform new ways of changing the world for the betterment of all. She reminded us that, ultimately fulfilling these ambitions is part of what philanthropy has stood for all along. Business and philanthropy have roles to play above and beyond just acting as funders, but also in advancing partnerships and the marketplace of ideas to turn programs into policy. Philanthropy’s ability to innovate can make great contributions toward the basic need for impact and change measurement within the SDGs.

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” While we don’t yet know the exact ways in which the SDGs will be accomplished over the next 14 years, we do know that the dedication of philanthropic organizations from Toledo to Tanzania will be key to the end results.


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