At the launch of the SDGs during UN Opening week ReachScale participated in a half dozen conferences and listened to 130 plus presentations.
One of the key obstacles in engaging the private sector is the lack of sustainable models that are testing or operating at scale. Not one presentation at UN Opening week talked about being able to deploy donations or capital sustainably.
You can not have sustainable development goals without sustainable models. These sustainable/scalable models are not typically found in governments, corporations or NGOs. So to build partnerships these organizations need to engage with the sectors that have these sustainable/scalable models.
Quote from David Wilcox's article:
In evaluating the over 100 presentations at these events, I was struck by the following:
- Few presentations gave any indication of serious learning from the wins — and losses — during 20 years of MDG work. A delineation of the models that work (i.e. more sustainable and scalable) is missing.
- In the absence of learning frameworks, presenters reiterate the same problems, now expanded to 17 goals and 169 targets. The result is a plea for more resources to support the new SDGs without any evidence that those resources will be employed more effectively.
The core request at these events was for more than four trillion dollars per year to implement the SDGs over 15 years. This leads to two questions:
- How can you call the goals replacing the MDGs sustainable if they lead with requests for resources that are not?
- At the beginning of the SDG process, what should the world’s government, corporate and NGO leaders focus on now to make the new global goals actually sustainable?
Where are the Sustainable/Scalable Models?
Social entrepreneurs have offered these five critical solutions to the problem of making the Sustainable Development Goals truly sustainable:
Recognize that commitments to achieving the SDGs must avoid Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Replace unsustainable practices with new models that leverage under-utilized resources and other sustainable approaches.
Redeploy resources from the inadequacies of donor, foreign aid and impact investment processes and into new models and leadership that move significant resources from unsustainable approaches to sustainable ones.
Reinvent how organizations request and deploy funding by moving to scale solutions that are more sustainable than those that failed to achieve most of the MDGs.
Reassess all investments, models and approaches. The most sustainable solutions must be aggressively adopted across sector and country boundaries, no matter their origin or disruption.
Increasingly, leaders are being asked to challenge the status quo. These leaders — often disruptors — no longer target seed stage or individual impact investments. The most impactful leaders know that pilots do not lead to scaling or to sustainability.
Social entrepreneurs thrive at risk-taking and from learning rapidly about what doesn’t work. These are the sustainable, scale-oriented models and management teams that are best equipped to handle significant capital and to shift how these goals could actually be achieved — shifting from unsustainable and un-achieved to sustainable and achieved development goals.
How to Make the SDGs Truly Sustainable: Social Entrepreneurs as Critical Achievement Engines