If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to recognize and support the changemakers who are working toward them in their communities.

Shifting, sharing, and ceding power are the latest terms in global philanthropy and development. Depending on the source, these words can sound hollow, like an empty barrel waiting to be put to good use. The great intentions behind the semantic shift to shared power that has occurred since the turn of the century seem to be losing steam as we move closer to 2030 and the ambitious targets the global development community, led by the United Nations, has set to achieve sustainable development.

In September 2000, global leaders representing 189 countries convened at the UN headquarters in New York to ratify eight broad Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which they hoped to achieve by 2015. At the time, these goals were described as the most important document of this century. Unfortunately, those lofty goals barely took off in some communities and were generally unattained. There are many criticisms of the MDGs. However, one of their main achievements was putting communities and people at the heart of international development. Understanding and reinforcing this single milestone is the key to true, sustainable development.

On Sept. 25, 2015, world leaders made another attempt to establish a global development agenda. This time, 193 leaders articulated and signed off on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs tried to identify gaps in the MDGs and course correct. These 17 goals, which range from no poverty to new partnerships, are bolder and even more ambitious than the MDGs. However, this time, they not only provide a framework for us to understand global problems that manifest locally, but they also offer guidelines for how individuals, communities, and institutions can contribute to solving those problems. Thousands of GlobalGiving partners are already contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. However, major blockers need to be addressed if we are to attain the goals.

Read the full article about SDG progress and pitfalls in local communities by Chinwe Effiong at GlobalGiving.