“No One Left Behind: Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in Australia”

by Whitlam Institute



This policy paper investigates international best practices in SDG governance structures, policy and planning and presents 12 policy recommendations around leadership, governance, and implementation to enable more integrated policy-making and implementation of the SDGs in Australia.

Project implemented: June 2020

Project goal

This research project aims to identify the emergent national best practice examples of SDG implementation – including governance structures, policy and planning – to assist Australia to improve its SDG performance for the benefit of all Australians. It aims to give weight to the voices and views of the many stakeholders who made submissions to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the SDGs of 2018.

delivering on

why is this project important?

Whilst the Australian Government is yet to release a national SDG plan of action, our recent bushfire crisis over the 2019-2020 period followed by COVID-19 underline the urgent need for strategic policy leadership at the highest levels of government to align national policy with our international SDG commitments.

This policy paper provides evidence-based research, policy recommendations and tools to assist policymakers and political leaders to develop more integrated domestic policy settings around the SDG’s and to measure our performance in relation to the 17 SDG goals.

Key steps to make it happen

1Key Interviews

Key informant interviews with SDG related policymakers and stakeholders in three countries (Germany, Mexico, and Indonesia).

2Written Submissions

Analysis of the 164 written submissions to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the UN SDGs.

3Literature Review

Literature review of emergent scholarly and SDG practitioner work relating to national SDG governance structures & policies.

Both political commitment (that includes financing) and new innovative and integrated approaches to SDG policy, planning and implementation are essential to success. This report offers a SDG Momentum Matrix as a tool for those stakeholders to chart the way forward. The matrix is a practical instrument that identifies and sets out the key indicators of best practice, as found by this study, for maximising SDG governance, policy and planning impact, particularly at the national level.

It is critical that the Australian Government takes leadership in the implementation of the SDGs in part because of the political and constitutional peculiarities of Australia’s federal system of government. Only the Commonwealth has the capacity and authority to coordinate the various State and Territory jurisdictions and Local Government bodies. Why has the Australian Government been so slow to take up its responsibilities to implement the SDGs, despite the parliamentary inquiry that gave clear guidance on how to do so? This report builds on one of the parliament’s recommendations – that Australia look to international best practice to improve its own efforts to work toward a sustainable future for Australia – by analysing best practice around the world and offering tools for Australian government to take charge of SDG implementation in this country. The new National Cabinet and National Federation Reform Council are exactly the kind of mechanisms needed to effectively implement the SDGs and make sure no Australians are left behind. To read the full report, see here.

related projects

Feeding the Performance of Regional Communities by International Convention Centre Sydney
Kwale Cotton Project by Business for Development
Renewable Energy in the Water Industry by Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA)
The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership by The George Institute for Global Health
Cooling the planet to feed the World by PundaZoie Company Pty. Ltd.
Barangaroo South by Lendlease
ChildFund Easy2Learn by ChildFund Australia
My Blue Sky by Anti-Slavery Australia
17 SDGs in 2018 – a year of awareness raising activiti... by United Nations Association Victoria and Deakin University
Pathways to Politics Program for Women by University of Melbourne
by Junction
Raising awareness of energy and sustainability in heritage c... by Australia ICOMOS National Scientific Committee on Heritage & Sustainability
Economic empowerment for women in Tanzania by Australian Volunteers program
Wanzauni Livelihoods Improvement Project by Anglican Board of Mission
Fair food farm by Green Connect
Anti-Racism: It Stops with me campaign by Australian Human Rights Commission
International Legal Training Program by McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer
Addressing the social determinants of injury by The George Institute for Global Health
The ocean, our future: an Ocean Decade program by Australian National Maritime Museum
The Bogie Bulk Buy by Strathbogie Shire Council
Get the experience and training you need to find a job by Department of Jobs and Small Business
Day At The Zoo by City West Water
Green Star – Communities by Green Building Council of Australia
Adult literacy schools in PNG by Anglican Board of Mission
Economic independence on traditional land by Indigenous Business Australia
University Commitment to the SDGs by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific
It’s Our Place – Bellambi by Australian Social Investment Trust
Solar my School by Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick Councils
Thriving Communities Partnership by Thriving Communities Partnership
Applying SDGs – Determining Socio-Economic Indicators ... by Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria
Young Farming Champions by Picture You in Agriculture
Getting started with the SDGs in Universities by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific
Fighting hunger in australia by Foodbank Australia
Financial Inclusion Action Plan by Good Shepherd Microfinance
National Youth Summit by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific
ANZ SDG Bond by Australia New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ)
We’re all in this Together by Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI) and University of Wollongong (UOW)
Spatial data infrastructure to help monitor and evaluate Aus... by AURIN – Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network
The Individual Deprivation Measure Global Program by Individual Deprivation Measure
English Language Learning for Indigenous Children by Australian Government Department of Education and Training
Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program by Department of Education and Training
Environmental Sustainability and Innovation by Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia Pty Ltd
Women in MBA (WiMBA) by Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong
Northconnex by Transurban
SDG National Forum by Fatouma TOURE
#SeaToSource by Conservation Volunteers Australia
Willing to Work by Australian Human rights Commission
Promoting the Advancement of Women Everywhere by Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia Pty Ltd
Business & Sustainability Forum Series by United Nations Association of Australia (WA)
Transforming Australia: SDG Progress Report by National Sustainable Development Council
Applying SDGs – Determining Socio-Economic Indicators ... by Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria
AICD’s Governance Diplomacy Program by Australian Institute of Company Directors
My Green Butler by Crystal Creek Meadows
5000 Meals Program by Prepare Produce Provide
Global goals for local communities by Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA)
Delivering sustainable development through infrastructure by Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA)
Inclusion Support Programme (ISP) by Australian Government Department of Education and Training
World Summit Awards (WSA) – Australia by World Summit Awards (WSA) – Australia
Cities Power Partnership by Cities Power Partnership
Achieving gender balance in water utilities by Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA)
Circular Economy Design Sprint by The Common Purpose Collective
Sustainable Fashion by Restyle Closet
Strong Women. Strong Business by Indigenous Business Australia
Building & Protecting Mental Health by Growing With Gratitude
Tropical Sustainable Design by Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab (TUDLab), James Cook University
Strengthening Multi-stakeholder partnering by The Partnership Brokers Group
Green Star by Green Building Council of Australia
Strengthening the Effectiveness and Extent of Medical Physic... by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
Blue by Blue The Film
SDG Toolkit for Systems Thinking and Collaborative Approache... by Australian Council for International Development
ICT for Social Impact Project in India by Swinburne Business School
Vision Initiative by Vision 2020 Australia
ChildFund Pass It Back by ChildFund Australia
E.S. P. Wool production by Kia Ora Merino
creating the capacity for people to invest space with meanin... by Place Agency at the University of Melbourne
Australian Marine Debris Initiative by Tangaroa Blue Foundation

Does your organisation have a project to include?