Quick Take: Global partnerships in support of human rights and the 2030 Agenda

On January 16, the SDG Lab moderated a panel of diverse voices engaged in promoting and protecting human rights and implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The panel – led by the Lab’s Nadia Isler – came together to highlight examples of strong and meaningful partnerships between human rights and the 17 Global Goals. The discussion was part of a one-day Human Rights Council intersessional meeting on the 2030 Agenda, organized under the theme of “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”—also the theme of this coming July’s High-Level Political Forum.


The Director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Paul Ladd, kickstarted the panel by offering a useful definition of an effective partnership: “A strong partnership is when people come together because they have a common objective and they co-create and cogovern a relationship which produces a positive outcome,” he said.

Mr. Ladd also drew attention to the value of measuring the effectiveness of a partnership by having indicators to assess if it is working.

A red thread of the hour-long discussion was ensuring that the voices of people who are not at the decision-making table are heard and considered in SDG implementation.

This point was particularly underscored by Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS. In his remarks, he emphasized the importance of nurturing and safeguarding civic spaces where people and groups can freely organize and connect to shape policies.

Panelist Dr Alaa Murabit, SDG Advocate and founder of the Voice of Libyan Women, challenged meeting participants not to overlook existing and effective partnerships at country level. She noted that local organizations and leaders in many countries have been working on the impetus behind Agenda 2030 for their entire lives.


“One of the most interesting things that happens when we have conversations about partnership is we always seem to be reinventing the conversation, without fair recognition of the fact that a lot of partnerships already exist,” stressed Dr Murabit.

Speaking to the engagement of businesses in promoting and protecting human rights and the implementation of the SDGs, Kitrhona Cerri of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) outlined examples of how business is putting people first.

One example shared was the Seafood Task Force to tackle slave labour in the Thai seafood supply chain. Ms. Cerri noted the task force prioritizes transparency across the entire industry, from producers and processors, to eradicate forced labour and, at the same time, reduce levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“Companies already know the steps they need to take to get ahead of the curve, and implementing the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights can make companies part of a proactive discussion with governments and stakeholders rather than a reactive response,” added Ms. Cerri.

Other speakers on the partnership panel included:

-          Nicole Ameline, Member, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

-          Francesco D’Ovidio, Head, Innovation and Solutions, ILO

You can watch the full panel discussion by visiting UN Web TV on demand.

Question AskerKali Taylor