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Aligning with the SDGs: The Gulbenkian Foundation’s Approach

August 11, 2021 - By Donzelina Barroso

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), encompassed in a historic agreement signed in 2015 by the United Nations’ member states, are a universal call to end poverty, secure justice, and protect the planet for future generations by 2030. While the agreement was signed by national governments, achieving the SDGs will require engagement from business, civil society, academia, the media, and, crucially, philanthropy.

The philanthropic sector can provide risk capital and long-term committed funding to organizations that are addressing issues posed by the SDGs, and can leverage technical expertise, advocacy, and strong cross-sector relationships to help advance the goals. Increasingly, funders are formally aligning their missions and goals with the SDGs for a variety of reasons, including to illustrate how their work contributes to the achievement of these goals. However, it can be challenging to adjust established processes, principles, and internal operations to ensure that alignment.

To help other philanthropies engaged in this effort, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation recently published SDGs and the Foundation, which provides insights from the Foundation’s own journey. Starting in 2020, the Foundation embarked on a project that aims to understand and to identify ways to measure how its activities and projects are aligned with the SDGs. Highlights from SDGs and the Foundation include:

  • Detail about the process that the Gulbenkian Foundation followed — with the assistance of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) — of meeting with operational units, conducting a projects and activities analysis, recommending SDG measurement approaches for each unit, and creating communication guidelines
  • Key elements for greater integration and alignment with the SDGs
  • The final project report, prepared by RPA, provides implementation recommendations for an evaluation model aligned with the SDGs
  • Examples of how the Foundation might report internally and externally on the alignment with key SDG targets for select activities and projects

To read the full post, visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s website.

For more information on aligning with the SDGs, see the following RPA publications:

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

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