Update 2: Accelerating the SDG progress through an SDG Alliance

The mahi continues to facilitate joint work across sectors, generations and populations to scope the viability of an SDG Alliance for Aotearoa.  This follows on from our 2019 People’s Report on the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The report brought together a variety of perspectives. It focussed on how we are progressing towards a more just, equal and sustainable society and a healthier planet, alongside a desire to create an SDG Alliance. In March this year, and as part of the Aotearoa SDG Summit Series, we shared an initial concept of an SDG Alliance and invited others to join us.  Read about our first workshop we held on 2 June on the role of an SDG Alliance.   We invite you to continue the kōrero with us on our Linkedin Group or reach out at

Our second workshop discussion 

Following our first workshop on 2 June on the role of an SDG Alliance, our second workshop on 16 June focused on how an SDG Alliance could operate in practice and be responsive to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It was co-organised by Hui E! Community Aotearoa, the Waikato Wellbeing Project, the New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness and Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki. We were again joined by a diverse group of people from the community sector, central and local government, businesses, funders and educational institutions. Before moving into breakout discussions, we looked at two potential structures for the Alliance – we revisited the Te Tiriti o Waitangi Relationship Framework and its vision for a tangata whenua and tangata tiriti co-governance model, and a Constellation model that is geared towards collaboration and has three enabling factors – lightweight governance, action-focused teams (constellations) and third party coordination. We then invited participants to join smaller breakout roopu discussing and providing feedback on three questions: 
  • What are your thoughts on how we can organise ourselves? 
  • How can we encourage engagement nationally, regionally and locally? 
  • What should be funded and how? 
Participants were again invited to join a Tangata Whenua or Tangata Tiriti breakout roopu. There was overall support for an SDG Alliance under a two-house model but different views emerged on details of a structure.

Feedback from the roopu 

1. Thoughts on how we can organise ourselves

  • Structure needs to be fluid, organic, welcoming, open and inclusive
  • Needs to reflect the true collaboration we want to see 
  • Different views on benefits and barriers of a formal versus informal structure emerged – having some structure but not too much structure. Enviroschools was given as an example of a national structure, regional coordination and locally delivered programmes. 
  • Agreement that there should be a legal entity involved to hold funds (this could be the alliance itself or a third party secretariat) 
  • A ‘pou’ structure was proposed, whereby pou represent specific or a cluster of SDGs or functional activities. They would be self-organised with co-chairs, a voluntary coordinator, and vertical and horizontal roles and responsibilities across regions. A governance group ensures cohesion and direction across the different pou.
  • Another approach proposed forming a national leadership group / coalition of the willing that could become the legal host entity. Government to become a critical partner
  • Importance of an issue-based approach

2. How to encourage engagement nationally, regionally and locally?

  • Seek connections and synergies with existing groups and activities e.g. pou to bring in local organisations that feed into national alliance strategy 
  • Leading by example to create snowball effect, story telling, gathering narratives and bringing people on the journey 
  • Regional hubs or local hubs for collaborations and sharing of resources
  • National level campaign to engage across NZ – e.g. SDG icon getting people to commit to having the conversation about the SDGs – socialising and normalising the conversation. Local ambassadors and connectors 
  • Minister for SDGs and lingo used in everyday contexts 
  • Local government review and local govt act an opportunity to reinforce councils to take a sustainable approach and use SDGs

3. What should be funded and how?

  • Resourcing versus funding – resourcing can be in-kind and financial 
  • Agreement that there needs to be some seed funding to get the alliance going – e.g. towards administrative, operational and/or functional costs 
  • Long-term – importance of money spent on action, not just administration. Majority to be project-based funding
  • Benefits and barriers of a membership fee model were discussed – income versus access barriers 
  • Sponsorship and co-funding are common practice 
  • People may need to be prepared to put something towards it e.g. time, staff hours, join/lead a project, and contribute to a website/pānui 

Other issues raised 

  • Being mindful that burnout is a big thing
  • Importance of enablers and champions in maintaining momentum 
  • Two house model – acceptance but conscious to not colonise Māori values and all people need to feel safe within the set up and have time to express their tikanga and share others
  • Importance of acknowledging people’s own SDG journey, not putting up barriers – partnering as well as guiding  
  • Importance of being representative – and the need for a separate space for young people to come together and to recognise intersectionality e.g. disability, gender identity, and bring back to main group 
  • Need to make it meaningful locally
  • Community of practice versus creating a national governance level – can be a barrier to flexibility and shut down grassroots voices – having a welcoming open model really important
  • Power of storytelling and use established networks 
  • Amplifying what’s already working well and enabling place-based approaches
  • Role of alliance beyond 2030
  • Regional and international links

What’s next 

It’s important that we keep engaging with people who have had input and provide feedback on how we’ve used it. We will continue developing a possible structure / model based on input and invite further feedback in the next month. We will also start having conversations with funders and in early September we are hosting a session at the SDG Summit in Ōtautahi Christchurch. This will  be a major milestone for the alliance.     We invite you to continue the kōrero with us on our Linkedin Group or reach out at We will also send you occasional items related to the SDGs that may be of interest.