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Editor's Note: Dialogues as an SDG Implementation Tool 

Issue #266 | 1 May 2017

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By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Group Director, SDG Knowledge, IISD <>

As the international community moves beyond stressing the need to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focuses on identifying the best ways to do so, dialogues have increasingly sought to serve as tools to help drive implementation.

During the 2017 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) in the UN Economic Commission on Europe (ECE) region, for example, RFSD Chair Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Commissaire générale au développement durable, France, called attention to the actions that should be taken at each level in implementing the SDGs. She noted that, while the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) can help with the global review of implementation and the national and local levels are able to implement change on the ground, dialogues the regional level are uniquely suited for information sharing about common challenges and solutions. At the same meeting, the Director General of the UN Office of Geneva (UNOG), Michael Moller, noted the need to break down bureaucratic barriers to implement the SDGs (for example, between line ministries) and to exchange information on best practices with partners.

Another example of the emphasis on opportunities for dialogue has come from the SDG Action Events organized by the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly. These one-day events have facilitated dialogue among UN Member States, international organizations and civil society organizations on specific topics related to implementing the 2030 Agenda, such as SDG financing, which was the subject of the SDG Financing Lab in April. These events have sought to discard the standard speeches offered in UN conference rooms in favor of moderated discussions focused on identifying specific, targeted actions that can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

The critical measure for these dialogues will be the effectiveness of the follow-up action taken by the international community. Action will be driven further if stakeholders feel they have been heard, and these dialogues present a way to amplify their voices in the key arenas. To these ends, UNOG's newly launched SDG Lab is pairing innovative dialogues with follow up actions to ensure that the knowledge gathered through such discussions will be “(1) used to further scale-up what works and (2) used to identify new partnerships that could address the challenges.”

IISD is pleased to be collaborating with the SDG Lab, and looks forward to helping to ensure that action is taken following the discussions that are convened. We are also pleased to bring you this collection of news summaries from our SDG Knowledge Hub, to help you identify the dialogues that are seeking to inspire action and SDG implementation.