SDG Lab News Dispatch: January 2019


(You can download a PDF version of this newsletter here.)

Dear friends,

On behalf of the SDG Lab team, I would like to wish you a healthy and prosperous 2019. This new year will certainly be eventful for all of us working to accelerate results for the 2030 Agenda.

Like you, we are preparing for a busy year. There are several events and activities planned in the coming months that will spotlight the role of the Geneva ecosystem, together with the SDG Lab, in supporting the implementation of the Global Goals.

But before highlighting one such opportunity on our radar, I want to take a moment to briefly reflect on the SDG Lab’s journey in 2018.

2019: A year of consolidation

Last year was a milestone year for the SDG Lab: it was our first full year of operations. With a growing team, a heightened awareness among stakeholders of what we do, and a better sense of our strengths, 2018 enabled the Lab to hone in on the actions that we have become known for.

Through interactions with SDG actors here in Geneva, and beyond, we saw more than ever the need for the SDG Lab’s niche – as a connector, amplifier, question asker and innovator.

This was demonstrated in the growing interest and participation in our initiatives, like the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem and the “So What” series. We also noticed a growing demand from many stakeholders to use the Lab as a partnerships incubator.

Similarly, we recorded an increasing number of requests from Member States to help spread impactful SDG practices and learn from successes and challenges in different parts of the planet.

Test, evaluate, repeat (… or not)

Like any start-up, we are learning as we go, and 2018 proved fruitful in this regard. We continued to experiment and fine-tune approaches and methods.

Some ideas went beyond our expectations, like the kick-off of the Geneva Sustainable Finance Collaboration, while others were placed on hold until we can better address the aspects that did not resonate with the community so well.


The past 12 months also demonstrated the diverse needs of Agenda 2030 stakeholders and the different ‘asks’ that the SDG Lab received. This has translated into acknowledging the importance of focusing our efforts on areas where the Lab can add most value and leveraging partnerships for greater impact.

An important activity for the Lab in 2019 will be sharing these and other lessons gathered to help partners and similar SDG hubs along their journey.   

On the agenda

So—what is on the SDG Lab’s radar for early 2019? An upcoming event we are looking forward to is the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, which will be held from 21-22 March in Geneva. The theme of this year’s forum is “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality"—more information can be found here.

During the two-day gathering, UNECE member countries and other participants will share experiences in implementing five SDGs that are under review at this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF): Goals 4, 8, 10, 13, and 16; the UNECE forum is the first of five such regional meetings in the lead up to the July HLFP.

The regional commission platform is an excellent opportunity for all SDG actors, including the Geneva ecosystem, to engage and exchange solutions for the Global Goals. And importantly, the discussions and interactions will directly contribute to the 2019 HLPF session.

Throughout the UNECE Regional Forum, the SDG Lab will act as a connector, amplifier and question asker. Although the meeting is primarily focused on the European region, the Lab will do its part by ensuring that key messages and impactful SDG practices are shared with all regions and stakeholders.

Closer to the forum, we will send an update on our activities and how you can engage. We will also use this occasion to highlight other events and moments to connect with us over the coming months.

In the meantime, should you have any questions or ideas, please send us a message ( or drop by to see us.

Best regards,

Nadia Isler and the SDG Lab team