In 2014, three foundations came together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Foundation Center and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to create a platform for change that would bring the philanthropy sector into the partnership of those addressing these grand challenges. We and our founding funders, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation, recognized that civil society and business were already creating coalitions and processes to help achieve the SDGs. Our work as the SDG Philanthropy Platform, described here and on our website SDGFunders.org, was designed to bring in this sector using the essential elements of a platform.
What is a platform? Unlike bounded projects and programs, a platform creates a playing field that draws in more and more actors over time toward shared purposes. Designed without a gatekeeping function on size or numbers, such a Platform is able to scale over time in response to demand from funders, grantees and anyone in any sector who seeks deeper information or partnerships on the SDGs, as well as pathways to achieve more systems-level change. As the SDG Philanthropy Platform, we have since early 2014 convened dozens of meetings in many countries to stimulate new partnerships so that these grand challenges can be met.
Governments and the UN system have an enormous responsibility in shepherding the achievement of the SDGs. But they cannot, nor should they, do it alone. Today's problems are so complex and urgent that new approaches are required that quite literally mobilize every sector and level of society. Only with deep awareness and embracing of the SDGs, and the rights and obligations they represent, will we be able, as humanity and the planet, tohold ourselves mutually accountable for achieving them.