Beyond Business as Usual – Reporting on SDG Impact

Rebecca Hamilton

09 Jun, 2017

Global agreement on the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 heralded a new era in the landscape of aid and development effectiveness. A universal consensus on what a prosperous future looks like, coupled with a road map for how to get there, has led to growing calls for the Australian Government to take decisive action and start reporting its impact against the SDGs, both here in Australia and through our aid program.  

With the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development convening in July this year, and speculation on when the Australian Government will announce its first voluntary report on SDG progress, sector leaders across civil society, academia and business are moving ahead and considering how best to tell their stories of SDG impact and cross-sector collaboration.  

Early movers in the sector are already working to drive quantifiable reporting in SDG impact evaluation.  The Australian SDGs Summit in 2016 reported that ‘there is already broad support for and significant momentum behind the SDGs from across all sectors in Australia, with a number of companies and other organisations already embracing the SDGs as a critical agenda and demonstrating their practical uses and value’.

Supply-chain logistics company Brambles, which focuses on procuring sustainable forestry materials (SDG 15) and maximising resource utility using the principles of the circular economy (SDG 12), has aligned their sustainability strategy to global priorities in recognition of the importance of the SDGs to their employees, customers, and investors. Telstra assessed the 17 SDGs against its value chain, identified four priority SDGs for the company, and is also looking at applicable indicators to track progress. Similarly, Australia’s national science and technology centre Questacon is building awareness of the SDGs with students and teachers in their education initiatives. Civil society organisations are also taking action. The International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) has developed an ‘Agenda for Action’ detailing domestic, regional and global outcomes against which progress can be monitored at different levels, and under each of the agency’s priorities.  

The Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network’s flagship conference in June 2017 will explore these themes, specifically, how cross-sector partnerships can advance impact towards sustainable development. As part of this conference ACFID will partner with the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to deliver a highly relevant and interactive workshop – ‘Beyond Business as Usual – Reporting on SDG Impact ‘, providing a unique opportunity for delegates to hear from early adopters on a variety of frameworks they are exploring for SDG monitoring and reporting. The workshop leverages off the collaborative leadership of these organisations as well as the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), as peak bodies and networks representing international development and domestic civil society, the private sector, and the academic community.

If we are to make a progress towards eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, “The Australian Government must go beyond business as usual to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” says Mr Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID. “Our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific will be developing their own priorities for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and Australia should be a leader in providing support and collaborating with them in this task.”

Telling impact stories on complex problems at the individual organisational level and across multi-stakeholder collaborations will be critical if reporting on the SDGs is to go beyond business as usual. This workshop will go beyond current practice to explore the different ways that evidence of outcomes and impact can be better captured, integrated and reported on across different scales. Working collaboratively, and thinking systemically enables all stakeholders to see their role, their responsibilities, and the sector’s strategic imperatives as interdependent. Telling the stories of progress against the SDGs across all levels is critical to making sure they are achieved for all.

To find out more and learn how you can contribute to the RDI Network's flagship event, please visit the conference website:

  • Rebecca Hamilton
    Rebecca Hamilton

    Rebecca is a member of ACFID's Policy and Advocacy Team, from a background in both the public and private sectors – with the International Policy Division at the Department of Defence, the Pacific Branch within the then Australian Agency for International Development, and more recently with Coffey International working on the Australia Awards Indonesia Scholarship Program. 

    Rebecca has a BA and Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Queensland.


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