Starting Strong Together : An Asian regional dialogue on SDGs

Starting Strong Together : An Asian regional dialogue on SDGs

By Ishita Islam


Ms Ishita Islam from BRAC attended the SV-ODI Regional Dialogue “Starting Strong – the first 1000 days of the SDGs – Asian regional dialogue” in Sri Lanka and shares her experience in this blog.

BRAC was graciously invited by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) to join the Asian regional dialogue on SDGs. The dialogue titled, Starting Strong: the first 1000 days of the SDGs was held in Sri Lanka from May 18-19, 2016. I was honoured to attend as a representative from BRAC and it was a wonderful experience to say the least.

The list of participants mostly included members of various think tanks, research institutes, multilateral donor agencies and policy centres of the region as well as government representatives from different countries in Asia. Representation of grassroots implementing organizations was hardly present thus BRAC‘s participation was quite a novelty.

Given that the dialogue was about starting off strong with the SDGs, it was understandable that so many policy experts were participating. It is still the nascent stage of the SDGs and the focus of the dialogue was starting off on the right foot. The event provided a great platform to discover how various countries were undertaking the implementation of the SDGs.

It was especially insightful to know how the governments of these countries were viewing the next 15 years and how the various policy institutes and civil society activists made their own commitment to holding the governments accountable for implementing the promises that were made. It was also interesting to see how advocates for the different SDGs made specific cases for why that particular SDG should be given more focus. The exercise was lively and the debates were engrossing with vigorous participation from the audience as well.

The 2-day sessions were as follows:

Day 1:

  • Integrating the SDGs into national development plans
  • How does an integrated agenda work in practice?
  • Toolkit demonstration: Tools to support an integrated agenda


Day 2:

  • Regional research discussion – small group sessions
  • Mobilising partnerships and resources to achieve the SDGs
  • Break out groups: first steps for the first 1000 days
  • Addressing inclusion and participation
  • Accountability for sustainability
  • Summary session


At the end of the event I felt that I learned quite a bit on the high level policy discussions that are taking place in the region with regards to the SDGs. As a member of BRAC which is an organization focused more on implementation than theory and policy, it was a refreshing change to be able to ‘see across the aisle’, so to speak. In my mind I was relating the discussions taking place with how they could be implemented in the field. It was a unique experience and I hope this network continues to work together to carry forward this wonderful platform for exchanging ideas, best practices, innovation and inspiration.


*The writer is a Programme Coordinator for the Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) Programme at BRAC*

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