Think Globally, Act Locally to Meet Development Goals

By David Nabarro, UN Secretary-General, Agenda for Sustainable Development & Sarita Nayyar, Managing Director, the World Economic Forum USA

Think Globally, Act Locally to Meet Development Goals

Richard Wafula, a farmer in Western Kenya, struggled to make a profit from his farm due to poor-quality seeds, pests, and lack of adequate storage. A partnership called Grow Africa helped the Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) identify suppliers, marketing and storage providers. Richard’s production has now doubled, generating increased income for his family. Across the world in Indonesia, companies involved in the Grow Asia partnership trained Pak Satiman and other coffee farmers in Good Agricultural Practices including soil conservation and sustainable input use, farm safety, and post-harvest techniques to increase the productivity and sustainability of their crops.

This week in Davos, global leaders will meet to strengthen and scale up partnerships – including Grow Africa, Grow Asia, and others. While partnership may sound like an abstract concept in a meeting room, it represents a vivid reality on the ground for farmers like Richard and Pak Satiman.

Generating transformational impact on the ground is the vision behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by 193 United Nations member-states in 2015. The 17 global goals form a bold new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which commits the world to ending poverty and ensuring a sustainable future. The second goal challenges the world to eliminate hunger entirely and develop sustainable food systems. Achieving “Zero Hunger” will require improving nutrition – particularly for women and children; creating sustainable food systems that increase production, incomes – particularly for smallholder farmers in developing countries – and safeguard ecosystems; and improving the stability and efficiency of markets so that food can be conveyed from farm to fork and traded across borders.

Achieving this new global agenda will require a new approach to achieving impact on the ground – one which is people-centered, locally-led and globally supported, and anchored in the spirit and practice of partnership. Newly-formed alliances between business, government, civil society, farmers associations and other organisations can jointly develop the solutions needed to improve opportunities for smallholder farmers and processers on the ground. Successful partnerships require leadership commitment, innovative action, and collaboration among diverse partners – none of which is easy to achieve.

A new “Guide to Country-Led Action,” launched this week in Davos by the World Economic Forum, outlines how this can be done. Drawing from the experience of the Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) initiative, it presents a model for country-led action which has been developed and tested in 19 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, mobilizing over USD 10 billion in investment commitments and benefiting over 9.6 million farmers to date. While the model has been developed in one particular sector, it is an approach that can be adapted to any of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The NVA’s Country Partnership Model includes five guiding principles for establishing country-level partnerships to achieve national and global goals. It calls for partnerships which are:

· Locally-owned and aligned with country goals

· Market-driven with projects led by the private sector and rooted in viable business cases

· Multi-stakeholder, with open and inclusive engagement from the beginning

· Holistic, integrating full value chains that benefit all actors in the agriculture system

· Globally supported by an international network providing solidarity, connections and resources

The NVA has drawn on these principles to catalyze, develop and support partnership initiatives such as Grow Africa, Grow Asia, and efforts in India and Mexico. Leaders of these partnerships meet annually to exchange experiences and best practices. The Guide draws from their expertise, experiences and advice.

The NVA approach offers a number of key elements which will be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The old top-down model of development is clearly obsolete; the future will focus on locally-led action which draws on a global network of support. This upends traditional approaches and significantly shifts the role of global organisations into one focused on supporting and enabling action through finance, knowledge and best practice-sharing, political support and accountability for results.

The 2030 agenda calls for a transformation of inter-connected global challenges to create a better future for people and the planet. It presents the world with a global call to action which will mobilize thousands of organisations into new networks of collaboration and partnership. Global organisations can be key partners in building the capacity for multi-stakeholder leadership and partnership coordination that will be required at country, regional and global level.

Editor’s Note:

This article first appeared on World Economic Forum and is reproduced with permission.

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