“The embryo of change is often found in the little things”

Published 19 May 2017 in:

Måns Fellesson and Kajsa B Olofsgård. Photo: Emelie Öberg / Regeringskansliet.

Ahead of the Forum on Financing for Development in New York on 22–25 May, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) has released a report containing more than 200 concrete examples of how to achieve the Global Goals. The aim of the report is to stimulate dialogue with other countries and actors and help inspire concrete ideas: “This is very much an educational product to raise awareness of the importance of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and its link to the 2030 Agenda,” says Måns Fellesson, Deputy Director at the MFA Global Agenda Department.

Legislation, corporate codes of conduct, water treatment systems – these are a few of the more than 200 examples contained in the report entitled Towards Achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“With this report, we want to demonstrate in a concrete way the activities already being undertaken to achieve the Global Goals. The report should be seen as a collection of examples that highlight interesting and innovative activities linked to the operational commitments in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We hope that this will trigger a more example-based dialogue in various international forums, not least the Forum on Financing for Development taking place now in May. We believe that this kind of product is needed to keep up momentum in both the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda,” says Måns Fellesson, Deputy Director at the MFA Global Agenda Department.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is the most concrete operational instrument, specifically designed to help guide countries in their efforts to achieve the SDGs. By showcasing a selection of operational examples, the authors of the report hope to engage stakeholders and trigger a movement towards a more action-oriented dialogue in various national and international forums, such as the Forum on Financing for Development.

“The report aims to signal the need to move from words to action. As we are now in an operational phase in the work to achieve the SDGs, it is reasonable to focus more attention on their means of implementation,” says Måns Fellesson.

The report is based on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which is divided into seven different action areas, including public resources, private business, international development cooperation, trade, and research and innovation. The authors of the report have selected more than 70 concrete commitments in these seven areas and have then tried to respond to these commitments with more than 200 examples.

“We present the examples in a clear and systematic way by describing the activities’ content, purpose, point of departure, method, financial scope and challenges. We have elaborated a little more on some of the examples as well, such as the Government’s gender-responsive budgeting,” says Fellesson.

He says they received a large number of contributions and chose examples that best match specific commitments. The selection was also made on the basis of originality and innovative quality.

“In other words, this does not have to be about large sums of money; it can just as easily be a ‘small’ idea with the potential to be scaled up. The embryo of change is often found in the little things – such as a thought or product in a company or municipality. The report contains examples from ministries, government agencies, the private sector and civil society. It is important for both Swedish and foreign actors to see how activities in different sectors can be linked to the Global Goals,” explains Fellesson.

The report is being launched ahead of the Forum on Financing for Development, which is being held in New York on 22–25 May.

“One important aim of the Forum in New York is to promote the exchange of experience through dialogue, and this is why we think that this type of collection of examples can provide important input. We need to move away from discussions on process and attempts to renegotiate the Agenda, and concentrate on what we have actually undertaken to do,” says Fellesson.

They have noticed, remarks Fellesson, that many countries are in a position where they do not really know how to move to implementation. The 2030 Agenda is a more complex agenda compared with the earlier Millennium Development Goals and requires a different approach – this challenges our way of thinking and our structures.

“To break away from these structures, it is important to show different approaches. This is why we want to show concrete examples of what is being done and start off an example-based dialogue with other countries and actors. This is a unique report: we do not know of any other country at the Forum that has done anything like this. We need small, practical examples to set the ball rolling – to create a snowball effect. We believe we have a number of snowballs in this report,” he says.

The report also underlines the need to create synergies and coherence between different areas and stakeholders, which may contribute to a more integrated policy approach within the Government, in line with the Swedish Policy for Global Development. The report will also be an important annex to the report Sweden plans to present ahead of the High-Level Political Forum in July.

Read the report: Towards Achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)