This is done by configuring their collective knowledge in new ways to support the creation of solutions to cross-cutting challenges and barriers to successful implementation of the SDGs.
The Ecosystem utilizes new thinking and innovative approaches like systems thinking, social change theory, foresight methodologies, and user-centered design to deliver solutions that enhance the work already happening in Geneva around the SDGs. This will make the collective knowledge within Geneva more accessible to and actionable for governments and other actors directly implementing the 2030 Agenda.
The vision is a dynamic organizational model that networks SDG actors in Geneva and brings them together to build partnerships and collaboratively create solutions to common challenges. It is a co-owned community that is supported by a few facilitating organizations who help move ideas to action.
A great deal of knowledge on sustainable development policy and practice exists within the organizations in Geneva; the challenge is getting it into the hands of those who need it, in forms that are relevant and timely to serve their individual objectives.
The Ecosystem works to translate the knowledge and expertise of Geneva-based actors into actionable knowledge products that can support SDG implementation.
The diverse composition of actors in Geneva working to achieve the SDGs makes it an ideal centre to innovate on policy and practice challenges. The Ecosystem utilizes the multidisciplinary expertise of Geneva-based actors to develop solutions to key challenges in policy and practice through design and systems thinking, foresight methodologies, multi-stakeholder dialogue, and coordinated research and analysis.
With hundreds of individual actors working directly on the 2030 Agenda there is a danger of duplication of effort and misalignment among Geneva-based actors. The Ecosystem connects and convenes diverse actors in Geneva to encourage collaboration, build partnerships, share lessons-learned, exchange information, and promote individual efforts more broadly. This creates the opportunity to build on each other’s work and advance the Agenda as a united front.
An ecosystem has a distinct ecological definition; it is a community of organisms and the network of their interactions among each other, and with their physical environment. While the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem is not biological it does build well on the analogy. Geneva is a community of actors that interact among themselves and with many global issues and processes. Just as the strongest ecosystems are well networked and rely on interactions between organisms to sustain itself, the Geneva community is strongest when there is a high degree of interconnectedness among the actors within it.
On one hand, the Ecosystem is carefully designed in its structure but on the other it is a constantly changing, emergent space for experimentation, innovation and action. This approach ensures that it drives towards tangible solutions while still allowing space for creativity. For this reason, a number of key operating principles are embedded into the DNA of the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem:
The Ecosystem has an experimental spirit. The facilitators create space for actors to build out-of-box solutions using innovative methodologies and collaboration. Additionally, potential solutions are brought to users early and employed within organizations in the Geneva community for testing, iteration and refinement. Prototypes are encouraged early and often. Failure is accepted and learned from.
The Geneva 2030 Ecosystem is nimble and responsive to the quickly changing social, economic and environmental dimensions of global society and, at a local level, the needs of the Geneva community. The Ecosystem actively seeks out the most up-to-date information and thinking available by keeping constant communication with its members; an ongoing "systems sensing" exercise. This information is integrated in real-time into the activities and outputs of the Ecosystem.
Particular focus is put on ensuring that outputs of the Ecosystem are applicable at scale. While solutions may be developed for specific niches or contexts, effort goes into finding ways to replicate their successes and augment them for broader application.
The Geneva 2030 Ecosystem is made of a broad, diverse group of partners representing different factions of society and sectorial focuses. UN Agencies and Programmes, IGOs, NGOs, academic institutions, and the private sector working towards the SDGs are encouraged to participate.
The Sustainable Development Goals create the basis for shared understanding among actors about the ultimate objective of individual and collective efforts. The nature of the agenda is one of complexity, formally demonstrating that for the first time sustainable development requires an integrated and indivisible approach. For this reason, systems thinking is the lens applied to the work of the Ecosystem. There is recognition that interventions cannot be approached as discreet activities but rather as interconnected pieces of a system that have impacts on other elements of the system.
The Ecosystem mobilizes the collective knowledge of the Geneva community and reconfigures it to be as actionable as possible. User-centric design driven by empathy is at the core of this process. Design thinking principles are employed including actively soliciting feedback from users to ensure they are engaged at every step of the process.
The goal of the Ecosystem is to create useful tools, products, initiatives, processes, and other innovations that address the challenges faced by actors in the Geneva community. Moving ideas to action is the Ecosystem’s core function. It is not a discussion forum; it is an action forum.
While the initiative is focused on the confluence of actors in the Geneva community, the outputs and thinking are globally applicable. The outputs will be integrated with freely available online platforms and communicated broadly in an effort to support actors in other regions.
The Geneva 2030 Ecosystem is not owned by any one organization, it is a community of participants. Its activities are shaped by the input of a number of participating organizations. The Ecosystem is co-convened by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and SDG Lab at UN Geneva.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development's mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability through innovative research, communication and partnerships.
Established in 1990, IISD is an independent, non-profit organization that provides practical solutions to the challenge of integrating environmental and social priorities with economic development.
The SDG Lab is a multi-stakeholder initiative, led by UNOG, that will contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supporting Geneva-based actors and beyond in further leveraging expertise and knowledge into policy, practice and action.
It creates space for interdisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration while consistently testing assumptions and asking questions about what is needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
Geneva is home to over 100 organizations working to advance the SDGs. There are a number of goals where Geneva has a confluence of actors with deep expertise, including:
The Perception Change Project has mapped the expertise in Geneva in an interactive platform that allows you to filter by organization, SDG, or expertise type (for example policy, data, research, etc.) It provides a comprehensive picture of the work under way in Geneva.
Click a goal for a quick summary of the expertise in and around Geneva