SDG localisation


Following the Rio+20 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, world governments embarked on a process to develop universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, which would come into effect in 2016, will apply to all countries and promote an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations.

The Monash Sustainability Institute (MSI) is leading an initiative to provide Australian and Southeast Asian/Pacific regional leadership in the development of the SDGs and the solutions for implementing them.

Sir Bob Watson, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of sustainable development and a former UK representative on the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, has joined MSI to chair the initiative and the workshops.

Key activities

The initiative’s two main components look at what the SDGs mean for Australia and what they mean for the Southeast Asia/Australia region. Both are being carried out through a series of high-level of workshops and the development of papers to support them. Two workshops take place annually – one in Australia and the other in the southeast Asian/Pacific region. Participation in the workshops is by invitation and includes senior leaders from government, the private sector, civil society and academia.

The workshops are developed, hosted and co-chaired in partnership with key regional stakeholders. They are chaired by Sir Bob Watson. The workshops examine where we are now in terms of sustainability performance, current trends and issues, plausible futures and options, what the SDGs should contain, and sustainable development solutions in action areas. The outcomes of the workshops are being published and passed on to national and international organisations and processes linked to the development of the SDGs.

What sustainable development goals should Australia aim for?

The international SDG discussions and negotiations have been justly focussed on continuing and finishing the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in “developing” countries. But what would – and could – the SDGs mean for a developed country like Australia? How relevant are current SDG proposals to Australia? And what sustainable development goals and targets should Australia aim for?

This component of the initiative is exploring these questions with the aim of promoting Australian leadership in the development of the SDGs and the solutions for implementing them.

Through a multi-stakeholder process, we have been developing a set of potential sustainable development goals and targets relevant to Australia that integrate economic, environmental and social issues. The goals address 10 areas: (1) food security and agriculture, (2) climate change and energy security, (3) sustainable water, (4) health, (5) social inclusion and gender, (6) education, (7) sustainable economy, (8) biodiversity and ecosystem services, (9) governance, and (10) cities. We are also exploring linkages among the goals and suggesting targets that ensure that actions to achieve one goal are synergistic with achieving another goal rather than undermine them.

Key outputs:

  • Sustainable development goals and targets for Australia: An interim proposal: This report provides a proposal for sustainable development goals and targets for Australia based on the work undertaken by the initiative so far. It includes background material on the development of the proposal, including discussion papers on the Australian and global challenges for each of the goal areas. Download report.
  • Second national workshop on what sustainable development goals should Australia aim for? This workshop took place on 19-20 May 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. It got a broad range of participants to consider the key issues that proposed goals and targets for Australia should cover and the interlinkages between them. It also examined ways to engage various stakeholder groups in Australia on the importance of the SDGs and on implementing them. See workshop summary.
  • First national workshop on what sustainable development goals should Australia aim for? This workshop, held on 13-14 May 2013 in Melbourne, Australia, brought together senior leaders from government, business, civil society and academia to examine Australia’s current sustainability performance and challenges, its impact on the world, its relationship with its neighbours, and the role of SDGs in an advanced country like Australia. See news article and workshop report.

Sustainable development goals in the Southeast Asia/Australia Region

We are working with Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Regional Networks in Southeast Asia and other regional partners to understand what the SDGs might mean for countries in the region, including regional priorities for the SDGs and consideration for how the SDGs could be implemented.

Key outputs:

  • Regional workshop on sustainable development goals: Priorities and solutions: The first regional workshop took place on 7-8 November 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The workshop focussed on the practical application of SDGs in the south-east Asia/Australia/Pacific regions. It was co-hosted by MSI, the SDSN, the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and the Office of the Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Malaysia. See also the Co-Chairs Summary.

Partners & supporters

  • An initiative of Monash Sustainability Institute, Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Harold Mitchell Foundation
  • Supported by National Australia Bank, Department of Environment, Australian Aid, City of Melbourne, and Yarra Valley Water