Encouraging implementation of the SDGs beyond government
The committee heard that the 2030 Agenda 'is not something that can be
achieved just by the federal government or bureaucracy; it is something that
needs different levels of government—national, state and local—business and
This chapter summarises suggestions from submissions for how the Australian
Government can enhance collaboration with the private sector and civil society on
the SDGs. It also includes information on the level of understanding of the 2030
Agenda in Australia, and proposals for increasing awareness.
Partnering with the private sector
5.2 Goal 17 (partnership for the goals) encourages governments to engage
with non-government sectors to implement the SDGs.
The committee heard that:
Business is a source of finance, a driver of innovation and
technological development and a key engine of economic growth and employment.
Business therefore has a critical role working with Government towards the
successful implementation of the SDGs.
Ms Sally McCutchan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Impact Investing
Australia said that 'if Australia wishes to be an effective contributor to the
delivery of the SDGs both in our own country and in the region we must unlock
more private capital towards this objective'.
Mr Simon O'Connor, CEO, Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) identified
'a significant appetite' from a growing segment of the finance industry to align
'capital with a sustainable economy and delivering on the SDGs' as they
recognise 'these goals will underpin a stronger and more prosperous economy and
hence long-term future investment returns for these long-term investors'.
Some Australian Government agencies have partnered with private sector
organisations to promote business engagement with the SDGs. For example, the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has supported the Shared Value
Project, which 'promotes shared value approaches to business in the region'. DFAT has also supported the Business and
Sustainable Development Commission and Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA)
to engage businesses on the SDGs. Such initiatives were
supported by Ms Kylie Porter, Executive Director of GCNA and Mr Andrew
Petersen, CEO of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia
Some other nations are partnering with the private sector to finance the
SDGs, such as Denmark, which was expected to launch a public-private partnership
The Danish Government also signed a memorandum of understanding with the World
Economic Forum 'to pursue a partnership aimed at improving the state of the
world through public-private cooperation'.
Support sustainable business and investment
The committee received mixed evidence on the extent to which private
sector organisations have embedded the SDGs into their businesses, and a range
of suggestions for how to support more businesses to do so. GCNA asserted that businesses
are 'increasingly communicating their actions in working towards the SDGs and
are bringing their supply chains and stakeholders with them on the journey'.
Ms Porter explained that:
...quite a few companies who are members of the Global Compact
whose turnover would be somewhere around the $1 million to $5 million...are
actively engaging in the SDGs because they see the economic benefit to their
bottom line of doing so.
Professor Rod Glover, Deputy Director of the Monash Sustainable
Development Institute (MSDI), suggested that multinational companies are 'getting
there first because they're more sensitised to a lot of those reputational
risks but also because of innovation opportunities that [are] attached to their
Others also noted 'the beginning of a shift by responsible
investors—super funds and fund managers in particular—to start assessing their
portfolios against the SDGs'. Mr O'Connor told the committee:
Already we're seeing a lot of progress from the finance
community in delivering upon the SDGs. We've seen SDG investment funds coming
to market, SDG bonds being issued, superannuation funds measuring their SDG
impacts, and SDG impact investment funds. We have seen through some of our
research that in the impact investment market SDGs already are the most
commonly adopted impact measurement framework.
However, Professor of Accounting Carol Adams noted that while there are
'major companies that acknowledge that long-term business success is dependent
on the achievement of the SDGs', there are still 'a substantial number of
pension funds and companies that have not acknowledged such risks'.
RIAA also noted that there are still challenges in maximising the contribution
of the business and finance community to the SDGs. GCNA warned that if
businesses 'take action without a lead from government, the actions may not be
aligned to national priorities'.
Therefore, many submissions called for the Australian Government to
support the private sector to adopt the SDGs.
One submission pointed out that some in the private sector are waiting for
stronger direction from governments before adopting the SDGs framework.
Ms Andrea Spencer-Cooke, Partner at One Stone Advisors, agreed that government 'leadership
is needed to catalyse business action and investment'.
The committee received many suggestions for how to support approaches to
sustainable development including 'shared value' and responsible/impact investing.
The shared value concept has been defined 'as policies and practices
that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and
environmental conditions in the regions where they operate'. To 'qualify
as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company
as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue'.
Responsible, ethical or sustainable investing is 'a holistic approach to
investing, where social, environmental, corporate governance and ethical issues
are considered alongside financial performance when making an investment'.
In Australia, 131 signatories have signed the UN-supported Principles for
Responsible Investment (PRI), 'making it the PRI's fourth largest market
Domestically, 'responsible investments have more than quadrupled over the past
three years to $622 billion, with nearly half (44%) of Australia's
investments now being invested through some form of responsible investment
Impact investing is a sub-set of responsible/ethical investing, which
requires investments 'deliver measurable social and environmental outcomes
alongside financial returns'.
Professor Adams explained that the SDGs have been 'changing the language away
from 'responsible investment' and making sure you don't have a 'negative impact'
to having a 'positive contribution''.
Ms McCutchan added:
Impact investments target positive societal outcomes
alongside financial returns and are seen globally as a means of expanding the
capital available for tackling the SDG funding gap, estimated at $5 trillion to
$7 trillion annually. Internationally, impact investments have already been
used to finance initiatives including aged care, health, social housing,
education, financial inclusion and international development.
She explained that impact investments are typically viewed as falling
into three different categories:
The first are investments in organisations, in the same way
as you make an investment on the ASX or in a venture capital fund or a smaller
organisation. The second way is what many in government would be familiar with,
which is the social impact bonds. That is a 'pay for success' model where
investors typically invest in a program up-front and then the government will
pay on the basis of a successful outcome, over a three- to five-year period for
most of them, or possibly longer. The third area is what we would call the
social infrastructure space. That might be an investment in an education
facility, a school or something that enables transport to communities, sport or
sanitation and so on.
A recent report found that the dataset of investable impact investment
product grew from $1.2 billion at 30 June 2015 to $5.8 billion at 31 December
This was largely driven by the increase in green bonds, and environmental
investments (96%) which far outweighed social investments (4%) on a dollar-weighted
An example of a social bond is the New South Wales bond around out-of-home
foster care, described by Ms McCutchan as 'hugely successful...in terms of
the outcomes that have been delivered and successful in terms of the returns',
though she acknowledged that others do appear to have a different view.
New South Wales has also developed a Social and Affordable Housing Fund of over
Another example of social impact investment is the Big River Impact Foundation,
...aims to foster economic sustainability and financial
independence for Indigenous Australians by creating social impact investment
strategies designed to deliver far-reaching economic and social benefits. The
Big River Impact Foundation also aims to transition Indigenous Australians out
of welfare dependency towards economic participation.
Financial incentives for sustainable business and
5.15 Impact Investing Australia cautioned that 'without constructive
engagement from across government, including appropriate catalytic action to
mobilise the market at scale, progress from here will be slower and less
impactful and may not meet its potential'.
Professor Adams argued that 'intervention is needed to counter the short-term
focus of markets if businesses are to reap long term benefits and contribute to
Australia's commitment to the SDG'. Therefore, some submissions
suggested that the Australian Government should provide financial incentives to
support sustainable business and investment approaches.
The Shared Value Project highlighted that while more than 70 percent
of its members actively supported the SDGs through their strategy and programs:
...opportunities for SDG implementation often have high
transaction costs for the private sector. The role of government in decreasing
these costs, opening up new markets, and strengthening the enabling environment
surfaced on several occasions. Providing appropriate tax incentives could
support and accelerate investment in the right places. Another example is
examining the allocation of infrastructure funding to increase the amount
allocated to disaster preparedness activities that could lead to significant
savings during recovery operations.
GCNA called for the Australian Government's 'consideration of innovative
ways to incentivise responsible, sustainable businesses (e.g. through
preferential treatment in public procurement, export credit assistance, or tax
incentives for companies providing SDGs impact) and [exploration of] ways to
build the Australian 'brand' as sustainable'.
A few submissions supported the establishment of a new SDG-related
investment fund. For example, World Vision Australia proposed a $100 million
Sustainable Development Impact Fund to incentivise private sector investment,
focusing on the most disadvantaged groups to ensure no one is left behind.
Ms McCutchan, Impact Investing Australia, argued that:
Governments have a role in building the market to encourage
growth, participating in the market to leverage more private capital in
priority areas and in acting as a market steward to set standards and remove
barriers for participation. Targeting policy in prudent investment can catalyse
activity, reduce risks for new entrants, build track records and enhance
investor confidence. This level of involvement is important for a
well-functioning, efficient and mature market. With increasing focus from the
corporate sector and institutional investors, Australia has an opportunity to
broaden the policy toolbox and access additional resources for greater impact,
including opening up further domestic and international collaboration and
Australian trade in the region.
She and a few others suggested the Australian Government support:
...a one-off contribution of $150m toward establishment of a
$300m predominantly wholesale institution, Impact Capital Australia (ICA), as a
partnership between the Australian Government, the private sector and the
community sector. This game-changing policy builds on successful models
overseas being taken up in countries across the globe. It is required to drive
the impact investing market to a state of development where it can meaningfully
contribute toward the SDGs in and from Australia.
She explained the process would entail raising contributions from financial
institutions and the government and investing in funds across the different
Ms McCutchan proposed that ICA:
...would be designed to target 10 different issue areas, but
broadly those issue areas are aligned with the SDGs. That's why we're trying to
get something like that into the market, a go-to place for people looking to do
this kind of investment to get capital to start some of the funds and to get
some of the private finance flowing into these critical areas.
She clarified that while some investment could be for international
development, most of it would be focused on domestic SDG-related issues.
DFAT has 'made some great first steps in supporting the development of
impact investing, including the Emerging Markets Impact Investment Fund, EMIIF,
and the Scaling Frontier Innovation Program'.
The committee also heard international examples of investment initiatives. For
example, Ms Spencer-Cooke referred the committee to the United Nations
Environment Programme Finance Initiative.
Ms Kylie Lloyd, Managing Director of Zoic Environmental Pty Ltd, said:
Sweden has an innovation agency, Vinnova, which promotes
sustainable growth by financing needs motivated research and developing
efficient innovative systems. It runs programs to boost innovation capacity...ALMI
[Företagspartner AB] is another agency within the Swedish government that, at
every phase of enterprise, offers advice, loans and risk capital to small- and
medium-sized businesses with profitability and growth potential. So, there are
a number of different agencies within other countries that are using finance as
seed for innovation in this space.
Procurement and promoting opportunities for small
and medium enterprises
Some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been supporting the SDGs.
Ms Porter identified the Winya furniture business, which in 2018:
...was the first Australian company to win a Global Compact
SDGs Pioneer award, because their business model is based on empowering
Indigenous persons, just because of the nature of their business and the way
that they do things. They're doing things such as buying product off mine sites
to then recycle in the manufacture of their furniture. They're a small
business—I believe their turnover is around the $5 million mark—but they don't
see the SDGs as a burden; they flip it and see it as an opportunity.
However, evidence to the inquiry generally highlighted the 'need for
strong information and awareness building around the SDGs and what relevance
they have to SMEs'.
Ms Lloyd, Zoic Environmental, told the committee:
As a judge for New South Wales Business Chamber awards, we
found small SMEs are implementing sustainability, but the focus is on
environmental sustainability, with limited understanding of SDGs.
The Queensland Tourism Industry Council surveyed its members and found
twenty percent 'do not believe that the SDGs are important in guiding the
future operations of their business'.
A respondent stated:
We are a small business grappling with government regulation
and costs. Exorbitant energy costs and local council rates and licensing costs.
Your bureaucratic SDGs are of no relevance to this small business.
Ms Spencer-Cooke identified government procurement as a platform for
ensuring the SDGs are integrated into business practices in Australia, noting
that sustainable public procurement is referred to in Goal 12 and is also 'a
means to drive progress on other SDGs' such as Goal 8 (decent work and economic
growth) and 10 (reduced inequalities).
Government spent, I think, $47 billion on federal procurement
spend in 2016-17. If the procurement is aligned with the purposes of the goals
that is a really easy win for government to send a strong market message that
will galvanise change in business and in markets.
An independent international report on the SDGs elaborated:
The strategic use of public procurement can also help
ensure that the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods,
services and works are aligned with the principles of sustainable development...Several
directives and frameworks have been developed to support the transition towards
more efficient and sustainable procurement processes in government.
The report emphasised that, in addition to 'green growth, public
procurement can help implement other secondary policy objectives such as
supporting SMEs and technological innovation'.
Some witnesses described how the Australian Government should seek to ensure
SMEs do not miss out on the potential business opportunities offered by the
SDGs. Ms Spencer-Cooke called for sustainability requirements to be steadily
phased 'into bids and tenders in a way that fosters efficiency improvements,
innovation, open communication and greater collaboration between producers and
She identified a range of international examples, including Germany's federal
Competence Centre for Sustainable Procurement, as well as Australian
initiatives such as the Indigenous Procurement Policy.
Mr Petersen also provided domestic examples, noting:
Already, most subnational/state governments in this country
have been building capacity programs for small and medium business in the area
of the environment, whether it's for environmental licensing requirements or
just building capacity around doing better operationally in relation to energy,
water and waste use. In New South Wales, for example, we have the Office of
Environment and Heritage, which has a very comprehensive program called
Sustainability Advantage. Sustainability Advantage was one of the first
programmatic responses in Australia to the SDGs, by bringing in the framework
and helping small and medium-sized businesses—whether they were car-detailing
operations, drycleaners or newsagents—to understand practically what they could
do in response to the SDGs.
Ms Lloyd indicated that '[a] lot of industry finds it hard to understand
and participate in policy development and reporting on this'.
It comes down to various different procurement processes and
platforms. Here's an example: as an SME, I'm required to participate in a
procurement platform, and I have to pay $500 or $1,000 for various different
platforms and fill in a number of questionnaires and be preregistered. If there
is a common platform on with common questions aligned to the SDGs, which the
industries share, this would be a great place for seed funding. How do we build
the capacity of the SMEs to be able to answer that? Questionnaires that are
focused on higher level language that an SME doesn't understand—the stress that
it takes to try and fill in those is just phenomenal. I agree completely that
the focus should be on helping and capacity-building for SMEs.
Ms Spencer-Cooke suggested that the existing 'ad hoc' efforts to support
sustainable public procurement 'could benefit from stronger, more integrated
and strategic support at [the] federal level'.
Integrate the SDGs into reporting and regulatory
In addition to providing financial support for sustainable business and
investment and capacity building for SMEs, the committee heard suggestions for
how to embed the SDGs into corporate reporting. The Addis Agenda included a
commitment to 'promote corporate sustainability, including reporting on
environmental, social and governance impacts, to help to ensure transparency
However, rates of reporting against the SDGs are low in Australian businesses,
and there are concerns that reporting remains somewhat superficial. For
example, a review of reporting among the ASX 20 found 'meaningful disclosure on
measurement and transparent reporting of any contribution made to the SDGs is
not yet common practice among the companies assessed'. Ms Lloyd said
in a review of the 'sustainability reports of a number of Australian companies...only
six percent acknowledged SDGs in their targets, with no details'.
For the 2016 reporting period, 19 ASX200 companies (9.5%) referred to the SDGs
in their reports and 17 of these reported at a 'Detailed' or 'Leading' level'.
Professor M. Azizul Islam noted that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
had limited impact on the practices of major global companies, which used them
'to signpost sustainability without doing much'.
Submissions identified the current risk of 'SDG-washing', which entails emphasising
an organisation's positive contribution to some SDGs, while minimising negative
Professor Adams cautioned: '[w]e're starting to see SDG symbols in corporate
reports, but I'm not convinced it's really getting into strategy considerations
at board level'.
Discussion at the 2018 Summit revealed that 'there is opportunity for
businesses to be more transparent in disclosing where they may be having a
negative impact and the innovative solutions that they are developing to manage
While acknowledging the risk of 'SDG-washing', other witnesses had a
more positive outlook. Ms Porter, GCNA, acknowledged:
...absolutely there was a trend of looking at the SDGs and
retrospectively applying those SDGs to programs or activities that businesses
were doing. But more and more—and this is not just at the top end of town,
which does experience investor pressure; it's also all the way through to the
SMEs and the non-listed companies—they are embedding this into their business
strategy and they're looking at it from a 'Where are some core business
opportunities for us that not only propel our existing business but can also
help us to contribute to the SDGs?'
Mr O'Connor, RIAA, told the committee:
We are very cognisant of greenwashing or impact-washing. As a
result we have a number of mechanisms and programs in place to verify the
credibility and the true-to-label elements of investment products making claims
around this. We run a certification program for investment products that aims
to ensure and audits and verifies that products are true to label and
delivering on their promise....There are clearly market
opportunities that will otherwise be exploited.
Mr Petersen suggested that the market 'would weed that particular
element out' without the need for government intervention and reassured the
committee that 'investment will not move towards those products, companies and
business models that aren't able to verify or prove to the market the
credibility of the particular outcome'.
Nevertheless, others made suggestions for how to encourage businesses to
measure and report their effects on the SDGs transparently, as outlined below.
Embedding the SDGs into disclosure and reporting
The Centre for Policy Development (CPD) proposed that financial
regulators 'raise awareness about the relevance of the SDGs to good governance,
risk management and disclosure, building on recent public leadership on the
relevance and materiality of climate-related risks and opportunities'.
This could be supported by including information on sustainability-related
risks in the ASX Corporate Governance Council Principles and Recommendations
and Australian Securities and Investments Commission guidance to company
Professor Adams further argued that corporate governance principles should
prompt boards to consider the recommendations of the SDGs and the Task Force on
Climate-Related Disclosures (TFCD).
She urged the Australian Government to press bodies such as the ASX and Australian
Accounting Standards Board to do more to update reporting and governance principles,
codes and standards.
Cbus also suggested that 'broader adoption of the SDGs by asset owners could be
facilitated by clarification of fiduciary duty', and called for the Australian
Prudential Regulation Authority to make it clear that environmental, social and
governance issues are material to risk
and return analysis, and should be considered in investment decision making.
Sustainability issues are also being considered in the context of corporate
frameworks internationally. Mr O'Connor identified 'an emerging consensus
globally and certainly some updates to law globally, such as the UK pensions
law, whereby trustees must consider environmental and social factors as part of
their fiduciary duties'.
Professor Adams said:
In the UK, ministers have effectively written to companies
and pension funds and have quite a significant impact around sustainability
issues, in particular writing to top pension funds and large companies, asking
them questions like...what are they doing about climate change risk? Are they
following, or do they plan to follow, the recommendations of the TCFD? And have
they considered broader sustainable development risks?
Submissions expressed different views about whether businesses should be
obligated to report against the SDGs, or simply be supported to do so. For
example, industry superannuation fund HESTA suggested corporate entities could
be required to report how their business strategy, operations and activities
are aligned with the SDGs.
A number of submissions agreed the Australian Government could require all ASX
listed companies to report their progress against the SDGs.
Professor Islam proposed that Australia 'introduce a mandatory,
community-driven, independent audit requirement for businesses'.
He suggested civil organisations, development partners and accountants should collaborate
on these audits.
In contrast, Mr Cameron Allen, UNSW Faculty of Science noted that it is
'not a regulatory requirement or a legal obligation for Australia to implement
the SDGs, and I don't imagine that it would be for business either'.
Social licence to operate firm Futureye argued 'in the long-term consistent and
robust regulation may drive sustainable innovation in reluctant companies, in
the current context a voluntary rather than prescriptive governance framework
which encourages knowledge sharing and learning is more appropriate'.
Strategic Sustainability Consultants agreed that while government should
encourage and support SMEs to engage with the SDGs, they should not be forced
to report against the SDGs.
Guidance on reporting
Mr Petersen said that 'investor markets are asking for more and more
information in key markets, of which Australia is one, about: 'What is the
institutional or jurisdictional response to climate change, or water or waste
management or societal health?'
However, there is not a common framework for companies to assess and report
their contributions to the SDGs.
Therefore, 'individual companies need to build their own response to those
Professor John Thwaites, Chair of MSDI, and several others called for the
Australian Government to collaborate with business on the development of consistent
standards for SDGs reporting.
Some suggested that this could entail the development of an online measurement
tool, or implementation guides for specific industry sectors.
Creating a reliable reporting framework could enable comparisons between
businesses and inspire a 'race to the top', rather than each organisation
acting in isolation.
Mr Petersen suggested that 'one of the key opportunities for government is
to act as an incubator to make sure that standardisation and nationalisation of
any reporting framework is done at least cost'.
PRI, RIAA, and others in the finance sector are developing a sustainable
finance road map to 'ensure that the heavy weight of capital can be directed
towards the achievement of the SDG'.
This initiative has significant support in Australia, including from over 40
financial organisations. It 'follows very closely a lot of policy work going on
internationally right now in the EU, the UK, China, Canada, Indonesia, New
Zealand and beyond'.
Mr O'Connor, RIAA, argued that the Australian Government should also support
international initiatives to create global SDGs measurement and reporting
Existing corporate sustainability frameworks are being harmonised with
the SDGs, UN Global Compact, Global Reporting Index (GRI), PRI and the Global
Real-estate ESG Benchmark.
Moreover, the GRI has partnered with the Global Compact to develop a common
framework for business to report on the SDGs.
Global resources already include the SDG Compass, 'a step-by-step guide for
businesses to align their strategies with the SDGs and measure and manage their
Mr Petersen gave an overview of global efforts:
Bloomberg Philanthropies has recently provided several
million dollars to SASB, which is the US equivalent of the Accounting Standards
Board, and to the GRI to develop a harmonised reporting framework. That is
incredibly exciting, because it will have massive jurisdictional coverage,
largely because the GRI is ostensibly EU and Asia-Pacific in terms of its
reporting coverage, whereas obviously SASB is more US. Then, of course, you
have the work of the United Nations through the Global Compact and those
higher-level principles that have general application...
Ms McCutchan also told the committee about the recently-established
Impact Management Project Network, which is seeking to develop a set of
standards which will form the basis of an accreditation system.
In addition to calls for a harmonised SDGs reporting framework, the CPD suggested
that the Australian Government should develop a sustainable finance strategy
and establish a sustainable finance taskforce.
Mr Sam Hurley, a CPD Policy Director, stated:
...leading financial centres around the world are starting to
roll out really comprehensive road maps and strategies around green finance and
sustainable finance. The UK has a green finance initiative; the EU has an
action plan on financing sustainable growth; Canada has appointed an expert
panel on sustainable finance; and there's been a huge amount of activity on
these types of issues in China and elsewhere.
Partnering with civil society
The 2030 Agenda called for governments to 'work closely on
implementation with regional and local authorities, subregional institutions,
international institutions, academia, philanthropic organizations, volunteer
groups and others'.
The Global Compact—Cities Programme suggested that to be truly effective,
governance structures, accountability measures and reporting systems 'need to
extend beyond government policies and the systems of public bureaucracy to
engage civil society and the community and the private sector'.
Support for civil society organisations
The Australian Government has partnered with some civil society organisations
on the SDGs. For instance, DFAT provided funding for the Australian SDGs
website, and $20,000 for Monash University as the contracting party for the 2018
CSIRO also supported the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)
and Collaboration for Impact to develop the SDGs Toolkit to assist users to 'explore
and test systems change and collaborative responses as a way of working
differently to achieve the SDGs'.
Submissions suggested that this approach to partnerships should
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) pointed out that community
sector organisations 'must be sufficiently resourced in order to effectively
engage with the SDGs'.
ACFID agreed, and proposed the creation of 'small grants schemes through each
of the Government departments on the IDC [interdepartmental committee] to
enable their stakeholders to access funding for communicating the SDGs'.
Mr Marc Purcell, ACFID CEO, reasoned:
You could be doing a lot with small grants at a departmental
level to foster communication back out into the community. It doesn't have to
be a lot of money. We just need to run a small grants program to get out and
communicate around what we want in our community that is aligned in the
SDGs—how we want better outcomes for our community—and let the best grants run
it each year and get local politicians to come and speak at it.
Proposals included funding for organisations across a range of
different sectors, as outlined below.
Regional and state-based organisations
Some submissions called for support for non-government organisations
working at the state and local community level. The United Nations Association
of Australia (UNAA) advocated 'seed funding to encourage public libraries,
schools, sporting bodies, tertiary institutions, and civil society groups to
promote awareness-raising and implement specific SDGs locally'.
Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI) and the University of Wollongong (UOW) noted
'[i]n a country where 96% of businesses are small to medium enterprises, local
regional approaches are going to be essential and support for these approaches
needs to be given'.
Regional and state-based multi-sectoral networks such as HCI and UoW and the WA
SDGs Network were identified as requiring funding to support their local
Universities and young people
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific
noted the Australian university sector has already been taking action 'beyond
business as usual' to support the SDGs. However, it claimed that
greater and more targeted support is required to enable universities to further
participate in 'awareness raising, providing the evidence base for policies and
responses, innovating solutions to specific challenges, and managing data and
SDSN Youth Australia/Pacific also noted that many young people 'are
already contributing to the 2030 Agenda through their actions and undertakings
in educational programs, charity initiatives, research and enterprise'.
They highlighted examples including Pujiman, a youth-run Indigenous cultural
heritage preservation project. This 'aims to address
SDG 11 through engaging young people and championing Indigenous Australians'
ancient blueprint for environmental sustainability'. However,
a 'lack of resources, under-representation in governance systems, and exclusion
from negotiations and decision-making processes have hindered the ability of
young people to contribute to the agenda to their full potential'.
Denmark supports youth participation in deciding future development, and
recommended youth-focused strategies to implement the SDGs.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Evidence suggested that ensuring no one is left behind will require '[g]reater
effort to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people'.
Therefore, the committee heard 'it is critical that provisions are made for
Indigenous peoples to be consulted and worked with in partnership towards goals
affecting their futures'.
Some submissions stressed that SDGs mechanisms must 'include resources to
support the active participation and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people and organisations in the process'.
People with disability
Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) and Disabled
People's Organisations (DPO) Australia emphasised that 'it is critical that
there is an active partnership with people with disability in the
implementation of the SDGs'.
However, the committee heard concerns from disability advocates that they had
not been adequately consulted prior to Australia's first Voluntary National
Review (VNR), and that the SDGs had not been properly communicated to the
disability sector. Ms Therese Sands, Co-CEO, People With Disability Australia,
We absolutely support their domestic implementation, but how they're
linked to key policy and reform areas and policy development areas for people
with disability and how that is conveyed to the community of people with
disability more broadly. To date, we don't believe that's occurred, and we
think that's detrimental to the domestic implementation of those goals and,
therefore, to sustainable and meaningful outcomes for people with disability in
Ms Sands called for a review of domestic processes and how
representative groups are engaged on the SDGs.
She identified the need for more clarity about the Australian Government's plan
for stakeholder engagement, noting 'we need some mechanism whereby all the
relevant departments are able to at the very least nominate somebody you go to
for that kind of implementation, and then some more formal engagement mechanism
with the relevant peak bodies'.
Ms Sands noted that New Zealand's formal consultation mechanism makes it easier
for organisations to raise and address issues.
Consultation through a multi-sectoral reference
Many submissions argued that the implementation of the SDGs:
...must be informed by active consultation with...formal
opportunities for marginalised and vulnerable groups to participate in
decision-making, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,
people with disabilities, women, the elderly and young people.
As outlined in chapter 3, most submissions were positive about the
consultation process for the preparation of Australia's first VNR, and a
witness reflected that it 'engaged a lot of different stakeholders'. A
recent UN report highlighted the importance of ensuring engagement mechanisms 'are
sustained over time and go beyond one-time, ad hoc consultation meetings'.
Professor Thwaites observed that there was 'very good consultation with
business, universities and civil society' during the preparation for the VNR,
and stated: 'We want that to be maintained and we want a
process embedded to do that'.
Many submissions supported the establishment of a multi-sector reference
group comprising representatives from academia, civil society and the private
Submissions suggested this group would consult with and provide advice to the
IDC and government on the national implementation of the SDGs. The committee
heard that the group could consider both domestic and international issues, the
challenge of leaving no one behind, and gender, peace and security.
SDSN Australia/Pacific suggested the group could establish a formal
consultation process and 'enhance transparency, collaboration and communication'.
Many submissions used remarkably consistent language when proposing the multi-sector
reference group, while some others used different terms to support the same
principle of multi-stakeholder consultation.
A few submissions called for a national coordination body to be established
Other countries engage non-government stakeholders on the SDGs through a
range of mechanisms, including 'dedicated discussions, advocacy and
Some include stakeholders on government-led national consultation entities or
technical committees, such as France, Indonesia, Samoa and Switzerland.
A UN report stated:
UN Member States have placed high hopes on multi stakeholder
partnerships (MSPs) for the realization of the 2030 Agenda. Several countries have
put forward multi-stakeholder partnerships or created frameworks for those in
relation with the SDGs. For example, the Netherlands has a broad coalition of
over 75 different stakeholders referred to as the 'Global Goals Charter NL'.
Participants ranging from companies, to banks, to civil society organizations,
have signed the charter and are contributing to the implementation of the SDGs.
Finnish development organisations described the cooperation between
government and civil society as 'exemplary' and recommended that Finland's
'participatory working methods should be continued and disseminated as a good
Finland's stakeholder engagement mechanisms include:
National Commission on Sustainable Development—a Prime Minister-led
partnership forum combining political leadership with civil society
participation. Tasked with reviewing the national implementation of the 2030
Agenda and enhancing the implementation of the Society's Commitment to
Development Policy Committee—a parliamentary body including
political parties, NGOs and trade unions. Tasked with monitoring and assessing
Finland's international development commitments.
The German Federal Government is advised by a 'functionally independent'
Sustainable Development Council on matters relating to sustainability the
enhancement of the National Sustainable Development Strategy.
Indonesia's Presidential Regulation signed in 2017:
...establishes governance mechanisms for the SDGs that focuses
on stakeholder engagement and mainstreaming the SDGs into sectoral development
plans and budgets. While implementation is devolved to provincial governments,
regular monitoring and evaluation reporting occurs at both the ministerial and
sub-national level. Indonesia's decentralised approach involves the
participation of a wide range of stakeholders in SDG discussions so that the
2030 Agenda can be adapted to national and sub-national contexts. Activities
include running awareness-raising programs on the largest national
broadcasters; and holding dialogues between civil society networks and the
private sector to effectively translate a commitment to inclusive SDG
governance into a policy framework.
Mr Chris Tinning, First Assistant Secretary, DFAT, agreed when asked
whether it was a decision of government to not include a formal consultative
network arrangement for the SDGs, and explained:
Obviously we have entered into specific agreements with some
of those peak bodies—for instance, GCNA is running the website for us. Most of
those peak bodies have been partners in organising those summits. Of course we
have an ongoing partnership with ACFID as a key partner for the aid program. In
terms of a formal mechanism around SDG collaboration, we haven't established
Independent data collection and reporting
The 2030 Agenda included a commitment that follow-up and review
processes at all levels 'will be open, inclusive, participatory and transparent
for all people and will support reporting by all relevant stakeholders'.
The Addis Agenda also noted that national systems 'should be supplemented with
data and analysis from civil society, academia and the private sector'.
The independent international SDSN/Bertlesmann SDG Index most recently ranked
Australia at 37 in the world.
The SDG Index aggregates available data on all SDGs 'to provide countries with
a quick assessment of how they are performing relative to their peers'.
Many submissions identified the Transforming Australia: SDG Progress
Report by the National Sustainable Development Council (the Council) as the
leading domestic example of independent monitoring and reporting.
The Council includes experts from the business, civil society and academic
sectors, and builds on the work of the National Sustainability Council, which
produced the Sustainable Australia Report 2013. The Transforming
Australia report includes data on Australia's progress against 144 selected
indicators, and according to cross-cutting themes.
This work was 'supported by industry super funds and philanthropy, both of
which, specifically, adopted a longer term perspective and a broader
perspective than many other organisations would'.
The Transforming Australia report found approximately 'one-third
of the indicators were determined to be on track, more than one-third needed
improvement or a breakthrough, and one-quarter are off-track or deteriorating'.
In particular, Australia was found to be 'progressing well on goals relating to
health and wellbeing (goal 3) and quality education (goal 4), while progress is
lagging behind on goals relating to reduced inequalities (goal 10) and climate
action (goal 13)'.
Some submissions suggested that the Australian Government provide
funding to, or formally partner with, the Council.
However, many others argued that there needs to be some independent monitoring
to promote trust, community engagement, and 'provide independent insights into
Professor Thwaites, involved in the Council, stated that there are some advantages
in the independence of the group, noting 'a group of independent experts... can
step back in a way that a public servant can't always do'.
Professor Glover, also involved with the Council, identified the case for 'a
centre of gravity here outside of government that's possibly in the academic or
research sector, so that you're getting independent, credible, trusted,
respected expertise that's going to look beyond the political cycles or the
cycles of any one government'.
He explained to the committee that the Council:
...worked really closely with DFAT and a number of the
departments in coming to assessments. We've had frank conversations where
government officials have said, 'That data's not right,' and we've changed it.
The relationship is closer than I think it might appear at face value, but we've
always valued what we could get from an independent, expert and
When asked about the Council, Mr Tinning, DFAT, also drew a distinction
between government and independent data, noting that 'they have a role in
providing a non-government perspective on issues, whereas we have a role in
providing government verified data'. He added that '[w]e see the efforts as
complementary, but we don't expect to combine them'.
Level of awareness and understanding
SDSN Australia/Pacific emphasised that 'achieving the SDGs will require
the support and involvement of all actors within the Australian Government,
across all sectors, and in the wider Australian community'. However, while awareness
of the SDGs is uneven across different sectors, it is generally low, with one
witness observing that the goals are 'invisible in Australia'.
SDSN Australia/Pacific reasoned that increasing 'the awareness of all actors
about what the SDGs are and how they can contribute to SDG achievement is
therefore crucially important for mobilising widespread action'.
The next sections outline the levels of awareness across sectors.
The committee heard that '[t]here is currently very little public
awareness and debate about the SDGs in the media or in Australian parliaments'.
Professor Glover argued 'that awareness outside of government is greater than
it is inside'.
A representative of ACOSS told the committee:
We've observed fairly low levels of SDG literacy across the
bureaucracy—outside of DFAT and obviously at some of the higher, more senior
levels where there's direct responsibility. But it certainly hasn't permeated
throughout the broader bureaucracy in terms of responsibility.
The Australian Government's perceived lack of promotion of the SDGs has
been raised as a significant issue by participants at conferences and SDGs
However, the delegation of goals to particular agencies 'has delivered pockets
of engagement, understanding, awareness and positive action across the
The first VNR process also 'provided a substantial boost to the visibility and
role of the SDG across Australian Government departments'.
Awareness across state and territory governments was also perceived to
be uneven and generally low, though the committee did not
receive a great deal of evidence relating to the states and territories. The
committee heard that most local governments had a low level of awareness, apart
from a few exceptions such as the Cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle,
and the Wollongong region.
In 2016 GCNA launched the CEO Statement of Support for the SDGs,
along with more than 30 business leaders.
MSDI stated that, while there is little awareness 'in small and medium sized
businesses', there is reasonable understanding in major Australian businesses.
Awareness also varies by the level of seniority.
Professor Adams nevertheless suggested that senior leaders in public and
private sector organisations 'have insufficient knowledge with regard to the
implementation of change towards sustainable development including the benefits
of doing so'.
However, she identified 'significant private sector interest in fruitful
approaches to the SDGs from companies, pension funds, asset managers, business
and industry associations, large consultancies, global not-for-profit and
intergovernmental organizations and accounting professional bodies and
Other submissions also pointed to particular sectors with higher levels
of awareness, including investors and asset owners, large ASX listed companies,
co-operatives and mutual enterprises, and shared value businesses.
While about 57 percent of respondents to a Queensland Tourism Industry
Council survey demonstrated some level of awareness of the goals, 90 percent
of members of the Shared Value Project were not only aware of the SDGs but
agreed they 'are very relevant to their line of business, organisational
strategy and the values of their stakeholders'.
However, Mr O'Connor, RIAA, noted that Australian views were 'a little further
behind' the international leaders, which 'underscored the need for more
education and awareness raising'.
The mining and extractive industries have demonstrated awareness of the
SDGs, and companies have been seeking to integrate the goals into their
practices and business operations. One example highlighted to the committee was
an extractives sector and UN SDGs roundtable hosted by Cardno, in partnership
with the Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment and the UN SDSN in April
Ms Danielle Alford, Regional Manager, Asia, Cardno explained that one of the
issues discussed at the roundtable was how to ensure that 'this is not
corporate engagement or sustainability as a department off to the side; it's
actually part of the core business and part of the business strategy'.
The committee also received a report on mining and the SDGs, which includes
case studies on how Australia's minerals industry is contributing to towards
five of the goals.
Many Australian civil society organisations have been actively embracing
the 2030 Agenda and integrating the SDGs into their planning and public
They have also cooperated with the private sector to deliver SDG-related events
and workshops, such as the 2016 Sydney and 2018 SDGs Melbourne Summits. The
2018 Summit 'brought together close to 300 participants, representing almost
A multi-stakeholder SDGs conference was also held in November 2016 (SDGA16).
Australian organisations also demonstrated a high level of understanding by
signing the 2016 Civil Society Statement of Commitment to the SDGs.
Submissions suggested that there are particularly high levels of awareness within
the international development sector.
Submissions provided examples that illustrated good awareness of the
SDGs in the university sector. By mid-2018, eleven university leaders had
signed the Australian University Commitment to the SDGs.
Individual universities and particular research communities have also engaged
with the SDGs through their research programs. For example, the UN has
appointed the University of Western Sydney as an 'Academic Impact' Hub for Goal
10. For the next three years, it will be responsible for promoting scholarship
and best practices for the goal.
The Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, mapped
its contribution across the 17 goals and found that its ten research areas
contributed knowledge and evidence to support each of the SDGs.
Other initiatives include the Principles for Responsible Management Education, a
UN Global Compact-backed initiative aiming to realise the SDGs through responsible
Universities have begun incorporating the SDGs into coursework, education
for professionals, and co-curricular activities, such as leadership programs
and entrepreneurship challenges.
As an example, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute created the
Doctorate of Sustainable Development and a Masters unit specifically on the
Sustainable Development Goals. However:
...across the academic sector, knowledge and understanding of
the SDGs are still developing. University researchers and teaching programs are
not adopting them en masse just yet, but it's starting to happen. We see great
advantage for us to be closely involved and engaged with them.
As well as increasing understanding through research and education, universities
have participated as key partners in most of the big SDGs events that have taken
place in Australia. Universities
have also demonstrated commitment to the SDGs through their organisational
practices. For example, Monash University has committed to the SDGs in its
Environment, Social and Governance Statement.
Young people and school students
Evidence on the level of awareness of SDGs among young people was mixed.
A 2016 survey of people already engaged in the sustainable development space
found 29 percent of the young people knew of the SDGs. The Australian
Youth Pledge for the SDGs was launched in 2016 by SDSN Youth
Australia/Pacific following the National Youth Summit on the SDGs. This
involved more than 100 young leaders from over 60 student associations and
Mr Clinton Moore, former Local Pathways Fellow and current Vice-President
of EAROPH Australia, described being pleasantly surprised by the knowledge and
enthusiasm of high school students for the SDGs.
Mr Dan Heap, classroom teacher at Forrest Primary School, said:
There is a bit of social media hype around the SDGs, and
through that we've found possibly a handful of schools around Australia that
are using the goals as a framework to inspire learning and action.
However, fellow teacher Ms Sarah Bauer-McPhee noted 'there's
certainly awareness of it but perhaps an uncertainty about how to use it in the
Of the Australian sample of a global survey PwC conducted in 2015,
53 percent of respondents were 'not aware of the SDGs at all'.
Submissions were almost unanimous in their assessment that awareness remains
low overall compared to other countries. The committee received
only a small number of submissions from individuals who are engaged with the
Ms Carolyn Davis, classroom teacher at Forrest Primary School, observed
...awareness and understanding of the SDGs in the wider
community is lacking. Our school community of parents and families is well
educated and informed, and many work in the public sector, yet less than 20 percent
had any prior knowledge of the SDGs.
Mr Tinning, DFAT, agreed that '[t]here is no doubt that
awareness of the SDGs in Australia is low... relative to most countries'.
One witness also noted the risk of people who are aware of the SDGs
misunderstanding their scope and believing that they are restricted to
They may also believe the goals to be 'primarily applicable to developing
nations and not relevant domestically'.
Initiatives for increasing awareness and understanding
SDGs events organised by non-government organisations have 'helped
to raise the profile and increase awareness across government, business and
Therefore, some submissions suggested that while awareness remains generally
low, 'a more active approach to explicitly addressing the SDGs is gaining
momentum in Australia'.
Submissions generally agreed that the Australian Government should take the
lead in increasing awareness of the SDGs, and made a range of proposals
for education programs, public awareness campaigns and other initiatives.
These could build better understanding of the SDGs, enhance government
accountability, identify opportunities for action at the community level and 'build
greater buy-in to achievement of the SDGs beyond government'.
A number of submissions called for the SDGs to be integrated into formal
school, tertiary and continuing professional development programs.
Educating and engaging young people on the SDGs can contribute to the
implementation of the SDGs, and better equip them for their futures.
Mr Moore suggested that it is 'important to put education systems and programs
in place that not only teach the SDGs and their connections, but relate them to
the everyday and future conditions that young people will face'.
UNAA also contended that '[p]romoting the SDGs in in primary and secondary
schools will be critical to prepare and empower young Australians to navigate
an increasingly complex and uncertain world'.
The Australian Curriculum included the MDGs as part of the geography
curriculum, and sustainable development is included as a cross-curriculum
priority for study.
Many submissions agreed that the Australian Curriculum should be updated to
include the SDGs.
This aligns with SDG 4.7 (that by 2030, all learners acquire the knowledge and
skills needed to promote sustainable development).
Forrest Primary School teachers:
...found it relatively difficult to find Australia's progress.
There are lots of resources out there for kids. They are not linked to the
Australian curriculum and they are also not from Australian websites. But what
we were able to use was very good and it was a nice starting platform. It would
be nice to have a few more local examples to share with our kids as well.
...spending hours after school when these students went home
just selecting resources, and particularly refining them to be accessible. For
example, the report that was released by DFAT was just far too complex...they
really struggled to have a look at that report without a lot of extra support from
us, and that took a lot of time.
The teachers explained that '[i]t is crucial that educators have access
to high quality resources to support their teaching'.
Mr Heap argued:
Our future leaders are at primary schools all over Australia,
and we need to put the SDGs front and centre on our agenda and on the
curriculum. They need to be written into the Australian curriculum not as
additional content but as an interwoven framework that teachers can use to
Mr Graham Williamson claimed that this could entail the 'politicisation'
and 'globalisation' of education without a 'democratic foundation' or informed
Other submissions noted some countries have incorporated the SDGs into school
and university programs, such as Estonia, Finland and the Republic of Korea.
Submissions also mentioned Australian examples of school programs on the
SDGs. For instance, Forrest Primary School students in their final year carried
out extended collaborative projects on the SDGs.
They undertook activities such as cleaning rubbish from a local river, and
making and selling cloth bags to contribute funds for the WWF Marine Pollution
Other examples included the Kreative Koalas program, which has inspired
students of Bulli High School to engage with the SDGs and conservation in their
local community, supported by Landcare.
Further, an SDGs postcard activity resource kit and education resource created
by Oxfam Australia and UNICEF Australia was taken up by 263 schools and
education providers in the space of one term.
Some submissions identified international programs, including The World's
Largest Lesson, and the SDSN Youth Local Pathways Fellowship, Global Schools
Program, and the online SDG zone.
Professional and community education
A few submissions also suggested the SDGs should be incorporated into
professional development and training for public servants and policymakers.
Several other countries are willing to build the capacities and knowledge of
public servants through training programs, such as Brazil, Indonesia and Italy.
Community education on the SDGs could also be offered through libraries and
Volunteering Australia stressed:
...that supporting resources, tools and promotional material
should be produced to assist organisations to promote and implement the SDGs at
a grassroots level. Education and training material, webinars and online
resources should also be developed to assist with the domestic implementation
of the SDGs.
Public awareness campaign
There 'has been limited emphasis on domestic awareness raising,
engagement on the SDGs at a grassroots level, and promotions'. Many
submissions called for the Australian Government to support and fund a national
campaign to increase awareness of the 2030 Agenda and action on the SDGs.
Oxfam Australia highlighted the example of New Zealand, where awareness of the
SDGs increased by five points since 2016 to 28 percent after a sustained
Approach to messaging
Submissions included suggestions for how to communicate about the
SDGs, noting that 'it can be difficult to distil clear messages and communicate
them in a meaningful and readily consumable way'.
Australians are more likely to engage with the SDGs if they are 'localised' and
communicated in a way that connects with 'established values of the Australian
community' including gender equality, cooperation, and being a good neighbour,
and be informed by human security narratives. ACFID
acknowledged that while 'there is no narrative that will appeal to everyone,
Australia has mainstream values—such as a fair go and being a good
neighbour—that can resonate with a wide cross-section of the population'.
World Vision Australia agreed the SDGs should be 'simplified for
public communication', and noted one way would be 'to synthesise them into five
categories known as the 'Five P's of Sustainable Development'—people,
prosperity, peace, partnership and planet.
Similarly, Volunteering Australia suggested 'awareness activities centre on the
overarching premise of 'leave no one behind''.
A campaign could also identify the interrelations between the goals.
GCNA suggested a 'focus on the positive contribution that working
towards the goals will bring to business and society, providing opportunities
for Australians and for Australian companies with connections abroad'.
Focussing on what the
world would look like if the SDGs were achieved...the Department of Agriculture
could support farmers' groups to communicate the SDGs via the importance of
ensuring Australia's food and water security; the Office for Women could fund
women's organisations to highlight the links between the SDGs and ending
violence against women.
Some submissions agreed that a campaign should use multiple
communication channels and include targeted and 'audience-specific' messaging.
Max, a student at Forrest Primary School, described his experience:
When trying to raise awareness about the SDGs we learnt that
we needed to use different communications methods depending on the age of the
person in question. My group (looking at SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic
Growth) used a game to entice the younger ones in.
Particular groups may require targeted communications, including state
and territory education departments, small business organisations and women's
Some submissions specified particular platforms that could be used to
disseminate information on the SDGs. For example, Mr Moore, former Local
Pathways Fellow and current Vice-President of EAROPH Australia, suggested that the
Australian Government administer 'SDGs-focused social media accounts and
content' to 'enable interactivity and immediate review by informed partners and
Awareness-raising actions can also include 'hosting events including artistic
events, appointing prominent SDG ambassadors, conducting SDG training with
government officials and journalists, and producing and distributing SDGs
material in multiple languages'.
Two Forrest Primary School students suggested that putting the SDGs onto coins
might raise the profile of the SDGs.
Strategic Sustainability Consultants asserted that the SDGs:
...need to be displayed on billboards and public transport.
They need to be flown on flags in city centres. They need to be advertised on
TV and radio and in print. Most of all, the SDGs need to be advertised to young
people through social media...The media and arts industries both have a
particular role to play in the communication of these goals including through
the communication of news, documentaries and other forms of storytelling .
Mrs Sandra McCarthy, President of HCI, recalled:
In Phnom Penh airport, as soon as we arrived, there was a
huge banner, 'Welcome to Phnom Penh', and their national government was
committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals...there is a role for
the federal government, even with simple things such as a banner, to promote
them more and create that awareness.
Communication strategies used overseas include Korea's nationwide
campaigns for the implementation of the SDGs; Belgium's SDGs website; a weekly
radio program in India; and a train that toured Belarus to promote the 2030
German ministries 'take care to highlight any links to the Sustainable
Development Strategy' within 'the framework of their own communication'.
A number of submissions were critical of the Australian Government's
perceived lack of high-profile leadership on the SDGs. UNAA, for example, was 'unable
to identify influential SDG 'champions' and 'leaders' within the Australian
Government—at either Cabinet, Parliamentary or Public Service levels' apart
A few government ministers have referred to the SDGs publicly,
and the then Prime Minister provided a foreword to Australia's first VNR.
Officials from the Office for Women, PM&C, also 'make sure that the
Minister for Women or the Ambassador for Women and Girls draws attention to the
SDG agenda wherever possible' in an international context.
However, it does not appear that ministers across all portfolios focus on the
SDGs to the same extent.
When asked for suggestions about how to promote the SDGs, primary school
student Miles Maguire proposed talking about them during parliamentary
Several other submissions shared this view, noting that awareness could be
improved if 'domestic policy announcements on, for example health care,
education, environment, employment, gender equality and housing affordability,
refer to Australia's international requirements under the SDGs'.
Others called for 'clear statements from political parties and political
candidates on their tangible and meaningful policy commitments towards the
achievement of the SDGs' at election times.
A few submissions advocated the establishment of SDGs awards, such as
One Stone Advisors, which called for the Australian Government to 'work with
industry and civil society groups to introduce awards—the carrot—for best
performers or even consider naming and shaming—the stick—those organisations
whose core business activities blatantly undermine national efforts to achieve
The Banksia Sustainability Awards and the UNAA (Queensland) SDG UNsung Heroes
Awards have been aligned with the SDGs.
Existing Australian Government initiatives
Some submissions suggested the Australian Government should support
events to provide a platform for knowledge-sharing on the SDGs. There
is a range of examples of government agencies supporting and participating in
fora, summits and conferences.
For instance, DFAT contributed funding for the 2018 SDGs Summit,
hosted an Education Policy Forum, co-chaired a consultation on youth and the
SDGs, held two philanthropic roundtables, and participated in the 2016 summit
The Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) also co-hosted an SDGs
forum in 2017, and has presented to stakeholders at various meetings.
Questacon has engaged on the SDGs through events and panel
sessions; projected an image of the SDGs onto the Questacon building; engaged
graffiti artists Ian Dudley and Anna Trundle to create an SDGs mural at the
Questacon Centre, and produced SDGs shirts.
Australian SDGs website and other digital channels
A few submissions acknowledged that case studies and stories are crucial
for understanding Australia's progress against the SDGs.
Case studies 'complement data collection and reporting activities by providing
further context about process, challenges, achievements and lessons learnt'.
Submissions pointed to international examples of SDGs websites that allow the
sharing of stories, including in the Netherlands.
The Australian SDGs website was launched in June 2018.
GCNA led the development of the website, and funding was provided by the
Australian Government. It shares case studies of domestic SDGs implementation,
and seeks to inspire action and encourage collaboration. It also provides links
to Australian and international resources, guides for businesses, and resources
for civil society organisations, universities, schools and individuals. The
website also provides links to goal-specific resources. It 'is meant as a 'living'
resource, to be updated and improved over time'.At the
hearing on 24 August 2018, Mr Tinning, DFAT, noted that 95 organisations had
uploaded 120 case studies since the launch.
A few Australian Government agencies have also provided information on
the SDGs on their websites, including DFAT and DoEE. Some
have also used social media channels to communicate about the SDGs.
For example, DFAT social media accounts are 'increasingly integrating SDG and
2030 Agenda hashtags into posts and sharing SDG related posts from other
Departments and business and civil society partners'.
In May 2018, 12 departments and agencies were represented in a
roundtable discussion of an SDGs narrative.
At the hearing in August 2018, Mr Tinning, DFAT, explained the government is
working with several businesses and peak bodies to encourage 'them to use their
own networks to get the message [about SDGs] out'.
He advised that the Shannon Company had been engaged to develop a common
narrative on the SDGs to be shared with peak bodies.
As a result, a series of pamphlets on the SDGs are expected to be available on
the DFAT website from early 2019.
While the IDC supervised the
development of the communication products, an official from PM&C clarified
that there is not a government-wide national communication strategy. He
indicated that it is 'up to each individual agency to determine how they want to
communicate SDGs to their particular stakeholders'.
When asked about other plans for raising awareness, Mr Tinning stated:
There is no other alternative than just looking for
opportunities to engage. The IDC is an obvious opportunity to raise awareness
across government departments. This inquiry is another opportunity, and
consistent questioning at Senate estimates about the degree to which SDGs are
appearing in annual reports is another one.
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