The Toolkit

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Goals (SDGs) call for collaboration and partnership like never before. Achieving the SDGs requires us to look at complex global challenges through many different dimensions. The SDG Lab was created to do just that — by acting as a connector, amplifier, question asker and innovator.

This toolkit captures the Lab’s journey by providing insight into the methods, tools and techniques that, if used, can enable you or your organization to deliver on the Agenda. The toolkit can be used as the foundation for your own lab or to inspire new ways of working.


This toolkit can help you in:

  • Building a lab

  • Experimenting with others

  • Testing new tools

  • Trying new ways of working (think multi-stakeholder and integrated)


  • Finding out what works and what doesn’t

  • Connecting with new stakeholders

  • Incubating partnerships

  • Co-creating solutions

  • Securing funding

  • Maximizing your unique convening power

  • Learning from other implementation success and challenges



I want to . . .


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Ecosystem of Actors

Randomized Lunch Trials

New Collaborations Workshop

Open Space Methodology

Peer Messaging



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Failure Report

Story Sharing

Ask Questions.

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So What? Series

Insights Session



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Country Challenges

Sustained Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Ecosystem of Actors

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An ecosystem refers to a distinct ecological definition: it is a community of organisms and the network of their interactions among each other, and with their physical environment.  

While an ‘Ecosystem of Actors’ is not biological, it does build well on the analogy. It is a highly networked community of actors that interact among themselves and with many global issues and processes.

  • Opportunity to build on each other's work and advance the Agenda as a united front.

  • Transformation of culture to one that values collaboration, partnerships, knowledge exchange and support.

  • Ability to translate the knowledge and expertise of actors into actionable products that support SDG implementation.

  • Opportunity to develop multidisciplinary solutions to key challenges in policy and practice that would not otherwise be addressed through a single-disciplinary approach.

Additional Resources




  1. Craft a concept that's relevant and legitimate. start by talking to the right actors and the right conveners (get out and go door-to-door!). Know what they want and their unique challenges in order to craft a compelling concept. This is the time to refer to the planning checklist to know that you're making the right decisions early on.

  2. Convene around the concept. After crafting a draft concept, host a visioning session with the Ecosystem to test it. Inform the community that you're still in the 'prototyping' phase — it is essential to have their feedback before locking in what the Ecosystem stands for and will be delivering on.  

  3. Create the space for great ideas. You should never come to a full-stop in prototyping. One of the most valued attributes of an Ecosystem is its experimental nature. After establishing the Ecosystem, ask the community what else they want and respond to those needs: piloting tools that uniquely speak to our actors is what led us to launch platforms such as the Randomized Lunch Trials and Peer Messaging. Not every tool will resonate; but trying demonstrates your commitment to the community and to experimentation. 

  4. Conduct surveys and check-ins to have one ear always tuned in. Annual surveys provide incredible insight into how the Ecosystem has grown over time, where it's doing well and where the opportunities are to improve. In order to best evaluate impact, start with a baseline survey. Between surveys, 2-3 question polls can be a great way to get quick feedback on new tools or concepts you are exploring.

  5. Stay consistent with communication and engagement. Your community needs consistent reminders that they are part and integral to the initiative. For sustainable relationships, it is important to host regular (not necessarily frequent) meetings. Once the concept has been well-established and you have the right actors engaged, leverage these engagements to cross-transfer knowledge and tackle challenges individual actors may be facing.

  6. Be open to growth when it's the right time.There is value in getting actors talking to each other and building unexpected partnerships, and this may be enough in the beginning. But eventually, people will want to take advantage of the multidisciplinary nature of the Ecosystem to accomplish things they are not able to otherwise do alone. Depending on where you're at in your growth stage, either make it clear when action isn't the purpose of the Ecosystem or secure resources when you see the community is eager to take the next step.