Why how we work together is important

At our recent workshop with Bond, we helped people explore the importance of how we work together on the Sustainable Development Goals, rather than what we are trying to achieve. In this blog, UKSSD Network Director Emily Auckland shares her reflections on the event.  

UKSSD and Bond have worked together for a few years on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically to support each other’s advocacy efforts with the UK Government. But we decided we might be able to do more together if we could bring our respective stakeholder communities together. Through this event we wanted to see if we could find new ways to collaborate and help forge new connections in support of the Goals.

The event was designed by former Head of Innovation at Forum for the Future, Gemma Adams, who used personal ‘dramas’ and the metaphor of a film festival to help delegates tap into a creative and emotional mindset. Our hope was that unlike most SDG discussions, we would focus on where we have similar experiences rather than what our overall aims are, to identify how we could work together in the future.

There are three things I took from the event:  

1. We all share similar challenges with the SDGs

Whether it’s translating them to our local or organisational context or engaging our audiences, there are a lot of shared experiences out there. Hearing from our peers and having approaches that we can replicate or learn from will be key.

2. Engagement needs to go further – it should be about building ownership

It’s easy to feel alone when you’re trying to change the status quo, particularly if you’re struggling to get others to engage. It’s clear we need to find ways for peers to support each other but we also have an opportunity to work together to help others to take ownership of the agenda. When we do this, we’ll have more people backing the change we want to create.

3. We need to take more responsibility

Whether it’s the need for government regulation or financial investment, we can too easily place responsibility for the SDGs outside of our organisations. It’s hard to find time to reflect on our own responsibilities and easy to forget the power our organisations have to create change.

Taking the time to explore our own challenges, understand where others share our experiences and then identify what is within our collective power could help us innovate and create an enabling environment for change.