In Geneva at the Department of the Director General for a meeting with the Sustainable Development Goals Lab to share humanKINDER’s mission, purpose and aspiration to amplify silenced voices for systems change. The SDG Lab was the brainchild of Director General Micheal Moller in 2016 - who together with the results of a mapping exercise by the International Institute for Sustainable Development - recognised that the organisation needed to move from single focus to look across all issues, finding solutions across systemic horizons. This hybrid innovation lab model sits in the office of the Director General and has all the benefits that come with that, but significantly does not have to adhere to legal protocols which gives it more flexibility.
Before the SDGs, the UN aspired to the Millennial Development Goals, but with a focus on just “developing countries”: this unsurprisingly caused a divide. The SDGs are now applicable to all countries in the world - an approach which very much resonates with the whole systems approach of humanKINDER. They encompass a framework to address many of the themes emerging during last week’s World Health Assembly - gender, equality, empowerment, communities - which are held precious to us at humanKINDER too.
The SDG Lab regularly hold ‘So What’ sessions which explore a couple of goals and their interrelationship in depth. For example Peace & Development or Gender & Sustainability. A main focus is bridging boundaries and building bridges - sometimes literally - in programmes of work which cut across different departments and areas of work. For example a recent project brought together members of the private financing district on the left bank of Lake Leman in Geneva together with professionals from the UN offices on the right bank. It had been a challenge to bring these two together, notably across the divide of water, but now they have a successful new programme of work which is already seeing new products in the fields of impact investing and blended finance models for good.
The SDG Lab approach very much reminded me of my work in SILK, and notably the challenges of working using design-principles for horizontal human-centred work within the context of siloed teams/organisations/cultures/industries. It was reaffirming to share experiences, limitations and possibilities within this context, sharing the reasons why I felt it important to 'break out' from the institutional setting in order to go TO people rather than expect them to come to us.
For us at humanKINDER it is particularly important to understand what the SDG Lab and the UN mean by ‘inclusion’. We discussed this in depth within the framework of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transforming our World; notably the pledge from 193 countries to ensure that “no one will be left behind”.
It was and inspiring and intriguing in similar measure inside the Palais des Nations, notably the historical weight of the Council Chamber where the League of Nations had first convened and where the walls were covered with the incredible works of Catalan artist José Maria Sert: studies of War and Peace, Progress of Humanity, Justice and International Law.