RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Organizations working in international development must now amplify their role to progress the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The SDGs provide a framework for public, private, and civil sector organizations to work together to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.
  • Aligning strategically to the SDGs enables these organizations to be more responsible, accelerate their performance, and gain influence.
  • The first step is to conduct an organizational SDGs review focusing on five key elements: Awareness, Alignment, Analysis, Action, Accountability.


There are 10 years remaining to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every element of our society, economy and environment, making the SDGs more relevant than ever. As the world begins the process of recovery, the SDGs offer a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future by 2030.

The international development implementers (“Implementers”) are key to progressing the SDGs, alongside the private sector, governments, and other civil society actors. Implementers include for-profit and non-profit organizations, for example nongovernmental organizations, whose main role is to implement and consult on international development initiatives around the world. Implementers work closely with the vulnerable communities most in need of support and so are at the front-lines of driving impact for change.

In a recent survey of 98 member organizations of the Society for International Development – Washington Chapter, largely consisting of Implementers, only one-third of respondents indicated that their organization has a strategy to advance the SDGs through their programs and operations.

"…the SDGs are the framework to build a society and economy that is more resilient."

— Anthony F. Pipa, Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution

In an environment where the private sector and many international donors are progressively leveraging the SDGs as a consistent language for their impact programming, Implementers must think more strategically about their role in progressing the SDGs to be able to work alongside these organizations. In this way, they can enable greater responsibility, accelerate performance, gain influence and ultimately scale impact.

As part of a strategy refresh, Implementers can use “The 5 A’s framework”, developed by the Brookings Institution, to build awareness around the importance of focusing on the SDGs, gain alignment around how to do this, take an analytical approach to what should be prioritized, define actions that should be taken and establish frameworks for accountability against the SDGs.

The 5 A’s – Roadmap for an organizational review on the SDGs

Awareness, Alignment, Analysis, Action, Accountability

We share tried-and-tested tools and guides to help Implementers be more intentional as to how they think about and contribute to the SDGs. With new strategic direction, Implementers will be well-positioned to play a central role and deliver the most impact in the decade remaining to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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About the Authors

Prat Panda

Senior Manager – Accenture Development Partnerships


F. Roger Ford

Managing Director – Accenture Development Partnerships


Reshma Shivdasani

Senior Principal – Accenture Development Partnerships


Hilary White

Senior Consultant – Accenture Strategy & Consulting

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