The inaugural Australian SDGs Summit: On the road to implementation

On 7 September SDSN Australia/Pacific co-hosted the inaugural Australian SDGs Summit, Australia’s first high-level multi-stakeholder forum to advance national implementation of the SDGs.

Opening panel
The opening panel of the Summit, from left to right: Sam Mostyn (President, ACFID), Christopher Woodthorpe (Director, UN Information Centre, Canberra), Catherine Hunter (Chair, Global Compact Network Australia), Cassandra Goldie (CEO, ACOSS), Sam Loni (Global Coordinator, SDSN Youth), and John Thwaites (Chair, SDSN Australia/Pacific).

In the first such event in Australia since the SDGs came into effect, 150 leaders and decision-makers from government, business, civil society, academia and youth organisations came together to advance Australian action on the SDGs.

The Australian SDGs Summit, which took place on 7 September in Sydney, was a joint initiative of SDSN Australia/Pacific, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA).

The aim of the Summit was to help Australia take the next step on action on the SDGs by building a common understanding of the SDGs, with the program carefully designed to facilitate sharing of experiences and learnings between different sectors.

The Summit was opened by both the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (read her address here), and the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, The Hon Angus Taylor MP – who set the scene for the relevance of the SDGs both domestically and abroad.

Through a mixture of keynote addresses, panel discussions, short presentations and breakout group activities participants discussed the opportunities and challenges of the SDGs for Australia, showcased best-practice examples of implementation, and identified what actions are need to be taken collaboratively and by different sectors to achieve the SDGs.



Organisations presenting their activities and perspectives on the SDGs included the organisers, Brambles, Telstra, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the UN Information Centre, Questacon, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Caritas Australia, WACOSS, CSIRO, Oil Search and the City of Sydney. SDSN Australia/Pacific was pleased to be able to feature the activities of our members The Mulloon Institute and Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (who co-convene the WA SDGs Network), and SDSN Youth.

In addition, the Summit was pleased to hear from Ewen McDonald, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), who provided an overview of the 2030 Agenda (which includes the SDGs), internationally and in Australia. As part of his presentation Ewen announced the formation of an Australian Government Inter-Department Committee, co-chaired by DFAT and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to discuss the Australian Government response to the SDGs.

One of the key objectives of the Summit was to demonstrate the already significant momentum and support for the SDGs across all sectors in Australia. Towards this end four sectoral statements of support for the SDGs, signed by some 80 significant Australian organisations and peak bodies, were presented by the Summit organisers:

The outcomes report from the Australian SDGs Summit identifies the opportunities of the SDGs for Australia and the key elements and priorities for continuing to drive action.SDSN Australia/Pacific is currently working with the other Summit partners to produce the outcome document and a plan for next steps in supporting Australia’s action on the SDGs.