UN Sustainable Development Goals

//UN Sustainable Development Goals
UN Sustainable Development Goals2018-09-28T00:17:39+00:00

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Marin County?

As of March 1, 2018, this page is in draft form. The purpose is to outline the potential for Marin County to adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) of 2030, and provides related resources.
UN Sustainable Development Goals Vertical Logo
The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realized. 
If we realize our ambitions across the full extent of the Agenda, the lives of all will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better.

– Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, United Nations General Assembly, August 12, 2015, pg 3. REF


The opportunity is for Marin County–across sectors–to adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 and collaboratively create a systems thinking roadmap to achieve the goals.


A cross-sector group with influence and insight into the three broad areas of social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic development is required to organize this process.
The current targets listed under each of the Sustainable Development Goals are global in view and scope. Locally appropriate targets and indicators are required to make the global goals locally relevant. The process of formulating these targets/indicators requires active participation and buy-in from currently existing consortiums (for example, Marin Food Policy Council, Marin Promise Partnership, Economic Forum of Marin, etc.).
Existing consortiums  would be asked to participate by aligning their existing efforts/goals under the corresponding Sustainable Development Goal or Goals, for the purposes of demonstrating solidarity horizontally (across Marin-based organizations) and vertically (from the neighborhood level to the global) across all of the goals, creating a coordinated web of interconnected efforts. Hub or backbone groups for some Global Goals are not currently available, and would likely need to form.
The great news is that at least a few of the current consortiums in Marin County have been working to various degrees with a systems thinking-type model for many years. Marin Promise is built on the Collective Impact approach. The Marin Food Policy Council has ecoliteracy (Fritjof Capra) embedded in its origination.
But what might it look like if a deep knowledge of systems thinking–a knowledge of systems tendencies, of complexity science–was to guide the efforts of all of these organizations, from newbies to seasoned activists, from a simple feedback form to twenty-year plans? What if the work of the one consortium was well known to the others, such that ongoing, coordinated efforts became possible? Collective Impact, Theory U, and the study of systems thinking offers an education in how to manifest this. As Theory U puts forward, ‘enabling the individual to see and act from the whole.’ I am suggesting that by adopting a cross-sector, county-wide effort organized under the SDGs we can realize this level of synergy.
The ideas as noted above are a first stab at formulating what this process might look like. However, even this basic draft requires far more insights from far more people to be truly robust. What follows is a list of systems thinking tools.


The following short list is a toolbox of powerful frameworks that have extensive trainings, documentation, and communities of practice. All relate to profound systems change, and all are applicable to NGOs, government, and social enterprises working toward a more fair and healthy world.

Horizontal Collaboration: “We need to do a better job of coordinating…”

Since August 2017, I have interviewed more than 20 local community members and leaders–and attended at least as many meetings–and the consistent refrain is, “Here in Marin County, we don’t do a very good job of working together across organizations and sectors.” There are important examples of where this cross-organization work is happening. In general, however, Marin is just like the rest of the country: we’re not really getting the results we want.

Engaging with the UN SDGs is an opportunity for every organization–nonprofit, for-profit, and local government–to better understand how each is contributing to a better world. It’s an opportunity to share a common vision, data, and strategies. It’s also an opportunity for individuals in Marin to better comprehend the relationship between issue areas, and to more quickly plug in and get involved.

Vertical Collaboration: We’re part of  a much larger system.

Though adoption of the SDGs in the U.S. is low at present, the potential is for us here in neighborhoods across Marin to link up with a global effort. Imagine the potential of connecting local efforts to regional work, to state, and on through national goals to the Global Goals.

And adoption of the Goals is growing. Check out this announcement from the Council on Foundations: More Than 80 Philanthropic Leaders Commit to Working Across Borders to Achieve the SDGs in North America.

The Work

  1. What do we mean in Marin County by “sustainable,” by “development,” and by “sustainable development?”
  2. Which local groups are already serving as cross-communication platforms for multiple organizations coordinating efforts, and which goals do these groups relate to?
  3. Which of the goals needs a cross-communication platform and doesn’t currently have one in Marin County?

Sign Up

If you’re interested in this initiative, please contact me.