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From Conversation to Collaborative Action:

Building a Cross-Convening Strategy to Achieve SDG 4 –  Delivering Quality Education

The following was written by Sujatha Sebastian, Co-Founder of Conveners.org


On September 25, 2015, the United Nations adopted a comprehensive agenda to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” by 2030. The agenda comprises 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), including SDG 4:  Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning for all. To catalyze action and align efforts to achieve SDG 4, a group of global conveners have formed a partnership to launch the Convening17: Cross-Convening Strategy. At its core, the strategy will connect networks and mobilize resources to scale solutions for education. It will engage leaders to identify solutions and articulate recommendations for implementation through a series of strategic working sessions hosted at global conferences throughout 2017-2018. Once refined, the Convening17: Cross-Convening Strategy could be applied to additional SDG’s in the future.

Launch of the Convening17: Cross-Convening Strategy

On October 17, 2017, the Convening17: Cross-Convening Strategy was launched at Opportunity Collaboration in Ixtapa, Mexico with a group of 30 leaders and practitioners.  The discussion looked at “Opportunities to Deepen and Scale Impact to Achieve SDG 4” and “Gaps in the Global Conversation on SDG 4.” It concluded with participants sharing resources to support each other’s work. The purpose of the discussion was not intended to create an exhaustive list of opportunities, gaps, and resources.  Rather, it was designed to leverage the unique, multi-disciplinary perspective of Opportunity Collaboration delegates to identify areas for future examination.  From this conversation we are tightening our focus to the impact of education for children in communities grappling with forced displacement.

Key Takeaways

Takeaway 1: Opportunities

As the global community considers options for how to best achieve SDG 4, there are many opportunities to deepen and scale impact, including:

  • Creating a strong process for collaboration across actors (to serve as a pathway for accelerating outcomes);
  • Investing in program evaluation (to confirm only effective approaches are funded);
  • Integrating diversity, inclusivity, and equity lenses into programs to address systemic breakdowns;
  • Capacity building for parents and educators;
  • Expanding the scope and diversity of curricula used (e.g, integrating mindfulness-based training, lifelong learning approaches, and non-Western approaches); and
  • Leveraging technology to increase access to education resources, tools, and programs.

Takeaway 2: Gaps

Multiple stakeholder voices are missing from the global conversation on SDG 4 including those of: children - and especially children with disabilities; indigenous communities; the private sector; universities; and more.  In addition, current discussions do not effectively address: need for cross-sector solutions and diverse frameworks; funding and affordability challenges; gaps in educator training; and infrastructure issues (e.g., lack of clean water), among other things.

Next Steps

The takeaways from this session will help inform the design, structure, and focus of future Cross-Convening Strategy conversations. Over the next few months Conveners.org will be recruiting additional convening partners, strategy advisors, media partners, and funding partners.

To help with the above please contact Avary Kent (avary@conveners.org)


Conveners.org would like to thank the following people for participating in this first conversation:

  • Aaron Ebner, Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development
  • Aaron Kahlow, Conscious Company
  • Andrej Vrsanky, Buddy
  • Annie Makela, Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillbrook School
  • Betsy Beaumon, Benetech
  • Caren McCormack , The Kilgoris Project
  • Caroline Bahaus, Peninsula Literacy Coalition
  • Christina Hachikiam , University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Clive Lee, Yidan Prize Foundation
  • Dan Tuttle, Orange Door
  • David Oginga, Furhaha Community Foundation
  • Deborah Burard, Grunin Center on Law & Social Entrepreneurship, NYU School of Law
  • Diana Samarasan, Disability Rights Fund, Inc.
  • Elie La Fortune, Haiti Development Institute
  • Jill Ultan, Skoll World Forum
  • Kate McKeown, ginnius.com
  • Katie Camillus, Cooperative for Education
  • Laura Hartman, School of Choice/l'Ecole de Choix (Haiti)
  • Laura Parajon
  • Lee Paiva, No Means No Worldwide
  • Leslee Udwin, Think Equal
  • Morgan Lance, Onesky for all Children
  • Philip Liu, Chen Yidan Foundation
  • Pradeep Suthram, RippleWorks
  • Sherry Sacino, Youth Empowerment Alliance
  • Scott Rehmus, Impact Journeys
  • Tamela Noboa, Discovery Learning Alliance
  • Topher Wilkins, Opportunity Collaboration