The Role of Civil Society in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals


On Tuesday March 15th, Philipp Schonrock, founder of Centro de Pensamiento Estrategico (CEPEI) shared his perspectives on achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by galvanizing civil society. CEPEI, an organization Schonrock founded when he was just 23 years old, coordinates various civil society groups in Colombia so they can contribute towards the global agenda.

In a dynamic talk, Schonrock took his audience through the "behind the scenes" of creating the sustainable development agenda at the United Nations, and the current climate globally that motivated the goals. Schonrock pointed to the new "geography of poverty," characterized by increasing inequality both within and between countries. He also pointed to new opportunities, such as the convergence of new actors like civil society, philanthropic foundations, and technology companies and new sources of finance that can help fulfill the SDGs. Schonrock powerfully attested that this is the first time in human history where we have the economic, social and human capital to actually deliver on the ambitious agenda.

When asked why civil society groups should care about the daunting agenda of the 17 goals, Schonrock launched into a passionate discussion about the importance of having a global understanding of sustainable development, and how every issue, from drought in Los Angeles to climate change in Peru, is interconnected in someway. To understand these connections at both the local and the global level, Schonrock called more voices in the conversation on the SDGS, a commitment that continues to drive his work through CEPEI.