The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are targets which member states of the United Nations have agreed to work toward. The goals which were set in 2015 are meant to frame the policies and agendas of countries around the world until 2030.
As one of the member states, Trinidad and Tobago has signed on to the agreement, but has not yet made clear which goals align with our top priorities. The 17 goals cover a plethora of issues from poverty, education and health to sustainable development, environmental factors and equality with the aim of transforming our world.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) around Trinidad and Tobago have worked tirelessly over the years on many of the issues covered by the 17 SDGs but not always cohesively. Collaboration and partnership have worked in advancing development in countries around the world and can work here too. With this in mind, on September 20, 2017 a group of 21 leading, local CSOs lead by a consortium of seven members officially launched the SDGs Catalyst Network. The group was formed with the aim of enhancing civil society’s contribution to governance and development process in Trinidad and Tobago.
The launch was chaired by Dr Jennifer Sancho, CEO of United Way Trinidad and Tobago with a speech from Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). There were greetings from Arend Biesebroek , Head of the EU delegation to Trinidad and Tobago who is the main sponsor of the project, Peter Mitchell of the Ministry of Planning and Development and Hazel Brown of the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women who was the CSO representative on the panel.
After the launch, an inception meeting was held with all CSOs present to discuss the way forward for the project which will run for the next three years. During the meeting it became apparent that a lot of the work that organisations have been doing over the years is interconnected. This means that a lot of opportunities exist for partnership, capacity building and knowledge sharing within the network.
While the networks consist of 21 members, the knowledge and networking will surely benefit other CSOs around both Trinidad and Tobago which the members are connected to. The project consists of four components which are being led by CANARI, United Way TT and Veni Apwaan. The components will explore capacity building, advocacy strategies, networking and knowledge sharing. ALTA is looking forward to being a part of this esteemed group and using our network for good.