BCCIC and the SDG Roundtables

The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) is a coalition of international development and civil society organizations that has engaged in sustainable development and social justice issues for over a quarter century. BCCIC supports its more than 140 members in becoming more effective agents of change in their global cooperation efforts by disseminating knowledge gained through collaborative projects, building relationships across different sectors and networks, and developing the capacity of international development practitioners. BCCIC’s vision is to engage British Columbians in global cooperation for a just, equitable, and sustainable world; its mission is to provide members and others in BC with networking, information sharing, and learning opportunities that facilitate cooperation to achieve global development goals and increase public awareness of, and support for, global development.

In September 2015, the world came together in New York to adopt a new and transformative global agenda – the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals address the world’s environmental, social, economic, and security challenges and provide concrete targets for realizing a healthy planet and viable future for all. Following the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, BCCIC carried out a process of appreciative inquiry that involved a listening tour through 7 regions of BC, meeting with 29 communities to find out how groups in BC were already working on the SDGs and whether the agenda could support or strengthen their work. Over the course of seven months, 31 roundtable meetings were held involving 412 individuals covering the Kootenays region, Vancouver Island, the Southwest region as well as Kelowna, Cariboo, Nechako, the Thompson-Okanagan region and the North Coast. Roundtable meetings were kept small to allow for greater discussion and participants ranged from two community members in Hazelton to 50 in Kelowna. Each roundtable meeting lasted around three hours and focused on the following discussion points:

• What are the Sustainable Development Goals and why do they matter?
• How do the Sustainable Development Goals relate to your work?
• How can the SDGs be an opportunity for greater impact and collaboration?

Participants discussed how their community is working on the SDGs and identified gaps and patterns. With the information gathered from the roundtable, BCCIC has developed an online searchable map that displays which SDGs groups are working on, where groups are located and the regions and countries they are working in. The idea is that the map will allow groups and the general public to more easily connect with each other and build collaboration around the SDGs.
Every roundtable meeting revealed a number of groups and individuals already driving progress on each of the SDGs in their communities. In Victoria, the term “invisible mosaic” was used to describe these groups whose efforts remain largely invisible to the public, politicians and even many of the organizations themselves. This “invisible mosaic” is made up of over 2000 groups who are already demonstrating how each and every one of the SDGs can be implemented and achieved. One advantage of the new global SDG framework is that it brings this “invisible mosaic” into focus, showing how the work of civil society organizations makes up the vital tapestry of Canada’s sustainable development effort.

While most roundtable participants saw potential in the SDGs as an opportunity for strengthening the work and impact of BC’s CSOs, there was also the recognition that action was needed in order for the SDGs to be useful. In particular, groups pointed to the need for political advocacy around the agenda, education and public awareness raising, CSO network building, targeted funding, engagement of key stakeholders, fostering of inter-generational collaboration and a recognition of the inner dimensions of achieving the SDGs. Taking action on these areas is as an opportunity to leverage the entire SDG framework to create an enabling environment for groups working on the goals and for BC to take a leadership role in achieving global sustainable development.

BCCIC is a coalition of international development and civil society organizations engaged in sustainable development and social justice.

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