Partnerships at the Heart of the Sustainable Development Goals

By Rachel Adrian


The 17th Sustainable Development Goal stands out as different from all the others. While the other goals focus on tangible improvements to quality of life around the world, the 17th is the means, the “how” to accomplish the other goals. By highlighting partnerships as the 17th Sustainable Development Goal, and the United Nations has made a call to action for multi-stakeholder collaboration. There is a distinct need for all sectors – business, non-profit and government – to come together around these common goals. Working in collective action is the only way to address such pressing, universal issues. Partnerships are critical to the success of the goals, but also very difficult for each sector as it is very different form the traditional mode of working.In order to support and build partnership capacity, the UN has created a website, Promoting Effective Partnering (PEP). The website intends to drive the global movement for quality partnering for the Sustainable Development Goals.  The site brings together the foremost work on partnering theory and implementation and was created by a consortium of organizations working in the partnership space, including the Partnership Brokers Association.The website provides extensive tool and information was inspired by the following inquiry: ‘What will it take to unleash the partnering potential for the SDGs?’  It aims to promote better access to proven partnering knowledge and expertise; and to identify and fill gaps in knowledge and expertise. 

Partnerships for the SDGs:

In addition, the UN has created The Partnerships for SDGs online platform. It currently lists over 2200 collective action partnerships working to meet the goals.

  • Honduran Women Light the Way: Through a partnership between the Government of India and the Small Grants Programme (SGP), a program supported by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and UNDP, four Honduran women have been supported in attending a 6 month “solar engineers” program. Thanks to this program, the women are installing, maintaining and repairing solar panels in their communities. Solar energy is a more efficient, affordable and safe option. So far they have installed more than 200 panels across Honduras.

  • Building Bridges in Afghanistan: Afghanistan, the UNDP and the European Union are partnering to build bridges along the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. This project hopes to reduce crime and increase trade and travel between the countries for more friendly regional cooperation.

  • The Right to Legal Aid: This partnership was formed in an effort to provide legal aid services to vulnerable Egyptians with dispute settlements in family court. Many people would not be able to take legal action without this service. They also provide training opportunities and assistance with navigating the legal system.

The UNDP website has many other excellent case studies of multi-sector partnerships that are making a tangible impact on one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Read more here.

How Will You Get Involved?


The Sustainable Development Goals are a critical opportunity for all sectors and all countries to come together around universal social issues. There is an opportunity for business to engage and develop shared value initiatives to address these goals while also ensuring a more sustainable, responsible and efficient business.How do you plan to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals? Is there a particular goal that is of interest to you or your business?Check out the Partnerships for SDGs Online Platform for more information about the goals and how you can get involved.