Building public awareness should be understood as a first step towards a participatory process in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Genuine participation and access to information are cornerstones of empowerment; participation having many instrumental gains as a result of using local knowledge, exposing local preferences, raising resource allocation efficiency, and maximizing ownership and sustainability of development. Consequently, awareness raising efforts should be participatory processes, which are critically assessed, to see whether they:
“Revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development” (SDG 17) demands the design of public awareness campaigns that are participatory in nature. And undoubtedly, access to information is key to foster meaningful public participation in the promotion of Equity, Equality and Sustainability through Innovation (EESI). But this information needs to be presented in a distinctive way that allows stakeholders (companies/investors, suppliers/service providers, clients/users and communities) to easily grasp the issues at stake.
“Through The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, nations acknowledge the imperative of a revitalized global partnership – “an intensive global engagement in support of implementation of all the goals and targets, bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources.”. The scale and ambition of the new agenda require the inclusion of new partners such as national parliaments, regional and local authorities, academia and volunteer groups. The revitalized global partnership will endeavour to deliver the means of implementation through “domestic public resources, domestic and international private business and finance, international development cooperation, international trade as an engine for development, debt and debt sustainability, addressing systemic issues and science, technology, innovation and capacity-building, and data, monitoring and follow-up.” So important are the means of implementation to the Agenda that it forms the basis for SDG 17 and its supporting targets.”
“Revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development” (SDG 17) also demands the design of public engagement campaigns that allow stakeholders to take advantage of opportunities for direct EESI action, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is hip and cool, which is how authentic and perdurable culture change is attained. This type of engagement may lead to out-of-the-box alliances between individuals, communities of practice and companies/investors -especially startups and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)- that follow the highest Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) standards.
“Public engagement in sustainability is a challenging task due to economic, technological, cultural and psychological barriers. Modern society is more knowledgeable and active in the fields of climate and sustainability compared to a few decades ago. However, more efforts should be made to increase awareness, critical thinking and knowledge sharing.
Knowledge and learning networks should be cultivated within the community. These networks should foster a culture of openness and inclusion, be transparent, and involve multiple stakeholders. The knowledge generated in Sustainable Development Challenge (SDC)-oriented public engagement cases will prepare stakeholders to advocate more effectively, create or co-create policy, and spread critical information to users. More informed and savvy users can better anticipate the impacts of disruptive technologies on their own lives and are more likely to realise the full value of these technologies, creating opportunities for greater prosperity, and can better protect themselves from their potential negative consequences. Knowledge sharing can activate fruitful dialogues with government while enhancing its own learning and its awareness of evolving societal needs.” (TRIGGER, 2021)
Our theory of change is based on the premise that establishing Integrity Nodes/Networks (INNs) through Participatory Action Research (PAR) will create a favorable environment for raising public awareness on EESI and fostering public engagement with private companies committed with the highest ESG standards, thus “revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development” (SDG 17) by allowing multiple stakeholders to create new synergies amongst themselves and with the public at large.