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ESDN Quarterly Report April 2017

Communication and Awareness Raising in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs: Activities and Challenges

by Eric Mulholland, Alessia Bernardo and Gerald Berger

This Quarterly Report will focus on communication and awareness raising activities that are being employed regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the challenges that are being faced in its effective communication at the UN, national, sub-national, and stakeholder level. This report will be looking specifically at communication and awareness raising activities that go beyond consultation mechanisms, which many countries employ when dealing with and implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs into National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS). For the purposes of this Report, communication and awareness raising will not only focus on what types of communication and awareness raising tools the UN, national, sub-national, and stakeholder levels are using regarding the SDGs, but also how they are using them to spread awareness. Some examples of the tools and activities that will be discussed in this Report include, media campaigns, websites, videos, SDG guides, conferences on sustainable development, workshops, newsletters, educational programs, etc.

This Report will, after providing a basic definition of communication and awareness raising activities and tools, focus, firstly, on communication and awareness raising in the 2030 Agenda document itself, in order to determine which stakeholders the 2030 Agenda is addressing and how the UN is trying to communicate and raise awareness for the SDGs among different stakeholder groups. In order for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs to have the highest possible chance of success, there needs to be in place communication and awareness raising activities that seek to reach as many stakeholders as possible.

From there, this Report will shift its focus to look at the national level within Europe, in order to take stock of what countries are doing in terms of communicating and raising awareness for the SDGs. The Report will give an overview of the tools and initiatives that countries are using, in order to illuminate good practices regarding communication and uncover tools that are effective in being able to communicate and raise awareness for the SDGs. From the group of European countries that have something in the way of communication and awareness raising activities and tools, a few countries will be selected for closer inspection on why they employ certain awareness raising activities and how these tools function in enhancing communication and awareness raising. Through analysing different country cases within Europe, it is hoped to be able to showcase interesting strategies that are effective in communicating the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels of government, which includes all stakeholders and civil society, and potentially lead to an enhanced success rate in not only the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, but also its uptake by stakeholders and civil society.

In addition to taking stock of the current communication and awareness raising atmosphere in Europe, it is an added goal of this Report, in being able to identify communication and awareness raising initiatives and tools, that countries can learn from one another, communicate further with one another in terms of ideas about different communication and awareness raising tools, in order to facilitate more exchange and to avoid duplication of efforts.

Apart from the UN and national levels, this Report will also inspect what different stakeholder groups are currently doing to raise awareness for the SDGs, whom they are targeting, and how they are targeting them. Stakeholder communication and awareness raising is interesting, as stakeholders and stakeholder groups tend to be very familiar with how best to reach members of their communities and interest groups than larger bodies, such as sub-national, national, regional, and international bodies, could be. Communication and awareness raising tools can, therefore, have a more targeted focus upon selected groups of stakeholders, which can elicit a more pronounced response from the target audience. When engaging with the SDGs, it is important to be able to present them to stakeholders in a way that is not only understandable to them, but also applicable. It is, therefore, important for stakeholders to be actively engaged with the SDGs, whether that is business, NGOs, CSO’s, research and academia, and civil society, as they sometimes know how best to make the SDGs approachable and appealing to their audiences.

Instead of dedicating a special chapter on the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW), this Report will briefly mention it here, as it is a communication and awareness raising tool that all levels are welcome to use in promoting the SDGs, meaning all European countries, regions and municipalities are involved in the ESDW, as well as stakeholders in encouraging people to register events to the ESDW website that have to do with the SDGs. The ESDW is a European-wide initiative to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It takes place every year from 30 May until 05 June 2017. The European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) is an initiative to facilitate the organization of activities that promote sustainable development and make these efforts visible on a common platform. The ESDW contributes to this ambitious, universal and transformative agenda by promoting the organization of bottom-up activities that have a thematic link to and support the SDGs. As such, the ESDW aims to raise awareness for the 2030 Agenda in Europe and calls upon local stakeholders to actively engage with sustainable development, in general, and the SDGs, in particular.

At the end of this Report, we provide some conclusions about communication and awareness raising tools for achieving the 2030 Agenda and SDGs that are applied at the national and stakeholder level.

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