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  • WORKING PAPER SDGs and NGOs
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How do NGOs mobilize around the SDGs and what are the ways forward? A French-German comparison

Working Papers Iddri, 2017. 24 p.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promotes a new partnership between actors. However, two years after its adoption, the meaning of this new partnership and the roles of the different actors are still poorly defined. This Working Paper explores the roles NGOs play in SDG implementation at the national level. Focusing on Germany and France, we identify what motivates NGOs to mobilize around the SDGs and check the extent to which the mobilization of NGOs around the SDGs varies across countries and across sectors. Finally, we analyze the challenges that NGOs face today in mobilizing around the SDGs and explore possible ways forward.


>> CALL FOR COMMENTS <<

This Working Paper was elaborated on the basis of interviews with experts from the UN, Ministries and NGOs. The authors would like to widen this consultation process and therefore ask for comments on this paper – to be send via email to elisabeth.hege@iddri.org before August 31, 2016.


KEY MESSAGES:

  • NGOs ARE MOBILIZING AROUND THE SDGs.

    This mobilization is more advanced in Germany than in France, but even there NGOs are increasingly aware of the SDGs and have started to take dedicated action. However, it is fair to say that the mobilization of NGOs is still biased towards development NGOs and, more generally, towards organizations working on international issues and that have a familiarity with the UN system, as opposed to those that operate at the national level, and even less to those working at the local level. There exists a knowledge and action gap between the different types of NGOs that must be filled, while the strategic reasons why some NGOs are deliberately not mobilizing around SDGs must also be taken into account. This study provides examples that aim to inspire action, to make the case for the concrete impacts achieved by applying the SDGs, and to encourage mutual learning.
     
  • NGOs PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN HOLDING GOVERNMENTS TO ACCOUNT. THEY ENCOURAGE THE CREATION OF NEW ADVOCACY COALITIONS AND INCREASE THE LEGITIMACY OF ACCOUNTABILITY CLAIMS.

    These emerging forms of collaboration between NGOs are a way to operationalize the integrated and universal nature of the SDGs. However, these collaborations will remain fragile if governments and the UN do not follow the example to overcome silos, and if some types of NGOs are not sufficiently included in national and international processes. NGOs can also play an important role in contributing directly via the implementation of their projects and in holding the private sector accountable, although we observed some reluctance from NGOs in taking up this role. This unwillingness is linked to a lack of definition of the so-called “new partnership” between national SDG actors and by a fear that this new partnership will result in blurred responsibilities.
     
  • WE IDENTIFY A NUMBER OF CHALLENGES IN THE MOBILIZATION OF NGOs AROUND THE SDGs AND EXPLORE THE MEANS BY WHICH THEY CAN BE OVERCOME, FOR BOTH GOVERNMENTS AND NGOs.

    These are linked to enabling and constraining factors that we observed in France and Germany, such as the importance of credible implementation processes and instruments, along with adequate funding. To sum up, the mobilization of NGOs is closely linked to whether the SDGs are a priority for the government. However, the same applies the other way around. Governments are less likely to make the SDGs a priority if there is no such demand from civil society. Therefore, neither NGOs nor governments should hesitate before taking action.