It could be argued that SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals) is the most important of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The complex and interdependent nature of the challenges we face in the world will not be solved by any one individual, organization, or government alone. There is not a single solution that can be scaled or a transformative public policy to be implemented that can get us to where we need to be. As the voices of the People’s Climate Movement have been crying out for years: “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Achieving the Global Goals and meeting the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will require strong partnerships and collective actions that bridge across traditional boundaries such as race, religion, class, gender, and geography. It also required recognition that not all partnerships have been created equally.

One of the places where this is most apparent is in international aid. Earlier this year, the murder of George Floyd sparked a groundswell of demand for racial justice and brought home the deep disparity and inequality which exists in the United States. A few important questions emerged for those of us working internationally: To what extent does conventional global development practice reflect exported systemic racism and structural inequalities? If we look carefully, can we see inequality and power imbalances perpetuated in the way we build partnerships, structure agreements, or give funding? What types of biases exist for deciding whose voice gets heard? Are we naturally curious or quick to judge? Uncomfortable questions. But the good news is that across the global development community and around the world, there is a growing call for change. But how?

We believe it is through the power of partnerships.

Partners Asia is a Global Washington NGO member and grantee partner. Partnership is at our core and it’s what we do. But not just any partnerships. For over 20 years, Partners Asia has been doing aid differently: flipping the power on traditional development dynamics to build deep and equitable partnerships with inspiring local leaders and local organizations. We believe that philanthropy can be an unstoppable ally in shifting power and deconstructing systems that perpetuate marginalization and injustice, but only if we are prepared to deeply question the structural inadequacy of the very systems that continue to fail us.

Over the last few months, with the conversions around racial equity and inclusion in the U.S. and beyond calling for a transformation of organizations, Partners Asia has been asked to share our experience around building equitable partnerships working for the Global Goals. Inspired by these conversations, and in consultation with our network of local partners and advisors, we have come up with the following three recommendations:

  1. Practice Humble Curiosity
  2. Commit to Determined Renegadism
  3. Build Trust From Within

Read the full article about SDG 17 by Corrina Grace at Global Washington.