Quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the SDG Lab.

What is the SDG Lab?

Kick-started in 2017, the SDG Lab is a multi-stakeholder initiative that contributes to implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Goals. The SDG Lab supports actors based in International Geneva and beyond in further leveraging development expertise and knowledge into policy, practice, and action.

The SDG Lab provides an open and neutral space to connect, share ideas, amplify impactful SDG practices, and co-create and test solutions. We encourage collaboration and experimentation with different approaches to address today’s complex development challenges—and we value risk-taking initiatives and learning from failure.

Led by UN Geneva, the SDG Lab is supported by the Governments of Switzerland, China and Nigeria, the University of Geneva, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Who does the SDG Lab work with?

The SDG Lab works with a diverse ecosystem of Geneva-based actors that are focused on accelerating results for the 2030 Agenda. The ecosystem includes UN agencies, funds and programmes, other intergovernmental organizations, member States, civil society, NGOs, academia, and the private sector.

The Geneva Ecosystem engages collaboratively with the intention of making their expertise accessible to countries and communities who are implementing the SDGs. Acting as a conduit, the SDG Lab nurtures the ecosystem by providing a launch pad for different organizations to co-create and form unexpected partnerships right here, in International Geneva.

What has the SDG Lab become known for?

The SDG Lab has quickly gained momentum as a recognized SDG hub in International Geneva and beyond. It has become known as a space that incubates partnerships and promotes different and new ways to collaborate in support of implementing the SDGs.

In a short span of time, the SDG Lab has proven its added value by connecting individuals and organizations, both within the broader UN system and between other stakeholders to accelerate results for the Global Goals. An example of this can be found in the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem.

Co-convened by the SDG Lab and IISD, the ecosystem is made up of a group of multi-stakeholder actors that meet to mobilize the capacity, skills, experience, ideas, and motivation of Geneva-based actors towards realizing the 2030 Agenda. Through the ecosystem, informal partnerships have been formed and spun off into separate paths and ventures for further exploration, such as the Geneva Sustainable Finance Collaboration.

The SDG Lab has also become a go-to resource for matching member States with UN and non-UN partners. This is particularly so for specialized UN agencies and programmes headquartered in Geneva that do not have country representation.

A growing number of countries have connected with the SDG Lab to benefit from the expertise of International Geneva, to facilitate exchanges of impactful SDG practices, and to learn from successes and challenges in various parts of the globe.

An important activity for the SDG Lab going forward will be capturing and disseminating examples of partnerships, both those successful and those less so, and sharing lessons to inform practice.

How can I become involved in the SDG Lab?

The SDG Lab is an open space. We welcome collaboration across our main areas of work:

Connecting – creating and enhancing relationships between SDG entities and individuals, particularly across different sectors and themes. Do you need new ideas or connections to advance your work on the SDGs?

Amplifying – learning from SDG implementation and sharing these lessons broadly. Do you have a story about successful SDG implementation or failure and lessons learned that you would like to share?

Question-Asking – helping the community to understand the interrelated, integrated, and transformational nature of the 2030 Agenda. Do you want to enhance your “SDG mindset”?

Innovation –facilitating collaborations that accelerate implementation. Do you need help to collaborate with others to deliver solutions at the country-level?

We welcome individuals and organizations working on the 2030 Agenda to reach out to us by email at sdg-lab@un.org. If you are in Geneva or passing through, and have access to the Palais des Nations, also feel free to stop by and see us. You can find us in Building S, office 151.

Why a lab for the SDGs that is based in Geneva?

There are several reasons, with the main ones being:

A multi-stakeholder ecosystem: International Geneva has a diverse and dynamic network of multi-stakeholders that are representative of the ‘demand and supply’ spectrum of the SDG chain, spanning UN agencies, funds and programmes, other international organizations, member States, academia, civil society, NGOs, and the private sector.

A multi-sectoral ecosystem: the breadth and scope of the SDG-centric issues addressed in International Geneva is unrivalled in any other city in the world, from human rights, health, ICTs, migration, trade, and humanitarian affairs, to list a few. International Geneva is also a leading global financial centre.

A city with global reach and impact: whether its decisions reached by member States, boards of UN agencies, funds and programmes, or initiatives of the city’s finance community, decisions made here have far-reaching effects globally.

Having a space like the SDG Lab in International Geneva helps to harness the added value of this diverse, multilateral, and dynamic ecosystem to accelerate SDG results for global good.

How do I create my own lab or find about some of your tools and methodologies?

We developed a toolkit that captures the SDG Lab’s journey and provides insight into the methods, tools and techniques that we have found useful in supporting new ways of thinking and working in the SDG era. The toolkit is available online and as a downloadable PDF.

What is the difference between the SDG Lab, the Perception Change Project (PCP), and the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem?

Each of these initiatives are complimentary pieces of International Geneva’s comprehensive response to the SDGs.

The SDG Lab and the PCP are both units within the Office of the Director-General at UN Geneva and are closely aligned and work together. The SDG Lab focuses on policy and practice innovation and collaboration, whereas the PCP concentrates on capturing and communicating the work of International Geneva and engaging broader communities. The success of the SDGs requires both dimensions of implementation.

The Geneva 2030 Ecosystem is an open and inclusive network of SDG practitioners in and around the city. Although the ecosystem is co-convened by the SDG Lab and IISD, it is not owned by any one entity or individual. We recognize and support the great power in self-organizing, open collaboration, and co-ownership; so, while the SDG Lab acts as a convener, we believe it is important that all actors have the opportunity to contribute and shape the ecosystem.

Where can I find SDG materials and visuals?

There is a wealth of SDG related promotional materials and visuals available online. We have compiled a list of SDG resources that you may find useful here.