In a UNESCAP report titled, Asia and the Pacific Progress Report 2019, it found out that the Asia-Pacific region will not achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 if the region remains on its current trajectory. It also assessed that progress is heading in the wrong direction or has stagnated in more than half of the Goals. The region’s progress on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth, and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) deteriorated. In another assessment made by Social Progress Imperative, a disturbing conclusion made was ‘at the current rate, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals until 2094.’ However, social enterprises are making significant impact and were seen are potential game-changers to accelerate the SDGs.
Considering this, the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) has been developing social entrepreneurship-led platforms to accelerate the SDGs in the region and was poised to launch in March 2020 at its regional conference. The themes of these SE-SDG Acceleration Platforms were sustainable livelihoods and women’s economic empowerment, sustainable consumption and production and circular economy, rural revitalization and youth, health, and technological innovations for sustainable development.
Then COVID-19 happened as a health and economic crisis affecting everyone including social enterprise stakeholders. ISEA initiated a COVID19 Social Enterprise Response and Visioning Effort (SERVE) webinar series. It had two objectives: to share, network and collaborate towards a responsive recovery strategy for the social enterprise sector amid COVID19 and to reconfigure the Social Entrepreneurship-SDG Acceleration Platforms. Roundtable discussions with organizations leading the development of the platforms followed. These platforms were then reconfigured towards inclusive recovery of social enterprises and contribute to building back fairer.
These platforms were launched and presented during the Social Enterprise Advocacy and Leveraging (SEAL) Asia Conference on September 16-17, 2020 co-convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in collaboration with Japan Foundation Asia Center, Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, Oxfam, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Social Value Japan, Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism- Social and Community Enterprise Constituency (APRCEM), and Asia-South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE).
These initiatives are meant to be collaborative platforms for:
- Learning and exchange of experiences and best practices among stakeholders on social entrepreneurship and cross-sectoral collaboration focused on the recovery of social enterprises and the marginalized sectors they serve towards leaving no one behind in building back better and achieving the SDGs.
- Developing and projecting collective impact in the recovery of social enterprises and the poverty sectors they serve towards leaving no one behind in building back better and achieving the SDGs.
- Developing and advocating changes in government policy and programs supportive to the recovery of social enterprises and the marginalized sectors they serve towards leaving no one behind in building back better and promoting social entrepreneurship and cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve the SDGs.
- Attracting and generating commitments and support from private donors and financial institutions as well as national and intergovernmental bodies to assist the recovery of social enterprises and the marginalized sectors they serve as well as to enhance the promotion and practice of social entrepreneurship and cross-sectoral collaboration towards leaving no one behind in building back better and achieving the SDGs.
These reconfigured platforms are:
- Women’s Empowerment, Livelihoods and Food in Agricultural Value Chains (WE LIVE FOOD)
- Decent Work for All in Sustainable Value Chains
- Rural Revitalization, Youth and Social Entrepreneurship
- Health for All
- Technological Innovations for Sustainable Development