On May 6-7, 2015, the SDSN Australia/Pacific Network organized a major workshop in Melbourne, which called on the Australian Government to recognize the relevance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Australia and initiate a cross-sectoral dialogue to develop a national SDGs implementation plan.

The workshop was one of two recent high-profile events undertaken by SDSN Australia/Pacific, which is hosted by Monash Sustainability Institute at Monash University, to consult with key stakeholder groups in Australia on how the SDGs could be implemented. It follows an event in February, hosted by BHP Billiton and organized jointly with the UN Global Compact Network Australia, to build Australian business engagement in the SDGs.

In this highly interactive May workshop, leaders and experts from federal, state and local governments, academia, business and civil society discussed the relevance of the SDGs for Australia and how they could be communicated broadly, opportunities for Australia from implementing the SDGs, the roles and responsibility of different sectors in implementation, and what concrete next steps Australia needs to take.

Australia:Pacific Network workshopIn addition, the workshop heard from many national and international thinkers, including Jeffrey Sachs, SDSN Director; Sir Bob Watson, former scientific advisor to the World Bank and DEFRA; Kushla Munro, lead Australian negotiator to the Post-2015 negotiations; Sam Mostyn, Chair of the Australian Council for International Development; Mark Joiner, former Executive Director for Finance at the National Australia Bank; Howard Bamsey, Former Ambassador for the Environment and Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute; Helen Szoke, CEO of Oxfam Australia; and Mark Stafford-Smith, Chair of the Future Earth Science Committee.

The Workshop Statement, which summarizes the discussions at the workshop, recognizes the relevance of the SDGs to the development challenges facing Australia and in particular its Indigenous communities. It calls on all sectors of Australian society to embrace the principles of sustainable development and support the implementation of the SDGs both nationally and internationally. It also specifically calls on the Australian Government to initiate a national non-partisan dialogue, involving leaders from all sectors of Australian society, to develop an SDGs implementation plan for Australia. The Workshop Statement and other information about the workshop can be viewed on the SDSN Australia/Pacific website.

These conclusions echoed those of a workshop on the Business of Sustainable Development, which SDSN Australia/Pacific organized jointly with the UN Global Compact Network Australia in February 2015. This workshop heard from business leaders and specialists that aligning business strategy to the principles of sustainable development is beneficial for businesses operating both domestically and internationally. The workshop found that the SDGs could provide a framework to assist businesses to implement these principles and to develop the cross-sector collaborations necessary for achieving them. The workshop summary can be downloaded from the SDSN Australia/Pacific website.

These consultations took place as part of a three-year SDGs initiative by SDSN Australia/Pacific and the Monash Sustainability Institute at Monash University, with principal support from the Harold Mitchell Foundation.