May 7, 2020
Guest Blog

Starting the recovery with a long-term vision: 2030 Agenda

Charles Beaudry, for the Accélérer 2030 pour le Québec Consortium

The assistance programs announced by Ottawa and the provinces to alleviate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis totalled $351 billion as of May 1, 2020. The substantial deficits created will be difficult to surmount and the costs will be borne by our children and grandchildren. Are we ensuring that the needs of future generations are being taken into account, so that the short-term recovery is based on a long-term view?


On September 25, 2015, the United Nations and its 193 Member States, including Canada, formally adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that enhance economic growth and address a range of social needs, including education, health, social protection and employment opportunities, while combatting climate change and safeguarding the environment. The SDGs provide guidance and an international framework for measuring data to achieve a more sustainable future for all.

Accelerating the transition through measured and coordinated actions

This coming fall, the Government of Canada will publish the final version of its 2030 Agenda National Strategy, five years after its adoption at the UN. For its part, the Government of Québec, through the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, announced in March that its forthcoming sustainable development strategy will align with the 2030 Agenda. Québec’s Director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, has already started this alignment and wears his 17 SDGs lapel pin during his daily news conferences.

The crisis represents a unique moment to redefine our model.

The Accélérer 2030 pour le Québec Consortium proposes a cooperative approach of coordinated actions based on innovation and benefit-sharing. Its objective is to fast-track the adoption of the SDGs measurement framework in order to obtain a global view of needs and solutions for Québec’s sustainable transition. The Consortium will focus on four strategic areas to ensure that the efforts to create an ecosystem for SDGs complement each other: establish an inventory and data measurement; implement long-term structuring funding measures; ensure the concerted mobilization of networks; and promote citizen awareness.

Initially supported by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and the GoodPlanet Foundation, two international foundations that have adopted the 17 SDGs framework, the Consortium and its founding members, including Philanthropic Foundations Canada, want to rapidly implement a new approach to systemic collaborations with Canadian foundations to ensure the long-term success of impactful solutions in Canada.

In concrete terms, the approach aims to test the collective deployment of philanthropic funds (Phase 1), both public and private, through an SDG covestment – not investment – technology platform. This platform will make it possible to support SDG projects with a long-term vision, by relying on a common international measurement framework and respecting the current constraints of private-foundation management and control.

What does this mean for philanthropy?

The advantage of SDGs is that all Philanthropic Foundations Canada members are already working on them. The idea is not to reinvent, but rather to use technology to link existing philanthropic practices to common goals and a shared framework for measuring the real effectiveness of large, medium and small foundations.

We did the exercise of aligning the five guiding principles outlined in Philanthropic Foundations Canada’s March 27, 2020, blog with the 2030 Agenda:

  1. More flexibility in grant-making: A new streamlined process for allocating philanthropic funds via a technology platform under a common frame of reference: the 17 SDGs;
  2. Contribute to local and national emergency funds: Ensure coordinated public-private-philanthropic funding for innovation projects that integrate the SDGs into their deployment strategy and contribute to Canada’s National Strategy;
  3. Deploy expertise and funds to support the community sector: Equip Canadian grantees with a common accountability framework under the SDGs to avoid duplication and better address the funding gap;
  4. Support every voice: The basic principle of Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy is the same: leave no one behind. This must translate into support for non-qualified donees who offer solutions to our current challenges and are ready to activate them now under the direction and control of private foundations;
  5. Long-term view: Initiate the short-term recovery with the long-term vision of the 2030 Agenda by immediately funding the efforts required to make this new vision operational.

Case study of a non-qualified donee: Hop-Child Technologies, Inc. (HOP)

HOP is a Canadian leader in the field of neuroscience. Its platform Watch-HOP is an affordable and reliable solution applicable to diversified fields, including central nervous system disorders such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as global virus outbreak management. The platform connects patients and health professionals through 2 modules: a digital companion interface and a clinical grade smart watch that collects vital signs and can send signals to the central nervous system.

HOP targets SDG#3: Good health and wellbeing, although multiple SDGs are interconnected, such as SDG 16: Efficient Institutions and SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth. The technology modules are supported by an electronic medical record (EMR) infrastructure that is fully integrated to the Quebec Health System (MSSSQ) and currently connects 2,5 million patients, while helping autistic persons’ perspectives of employment.

Recently, HOP has received the blessing of both federal and provincial authorities. HOP seeks seed funding in the order of $2,0M to match provincial and federal funding sources to deploy its platform all across Canada (full brief). This would offer a large scale Canadian population monitoring solution to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 to Canada’s healthcare system. Private investment is no longer an option, given substantial family and personal resources invested in the project in the last 7 years. Its for-profit status seems to limit HOP’s actions with the philanthropic sector, as a non-qualified donee.

That is the reality of numerous impact-first innovations in Canada and around the world. This period is commonly referred to as the ‘Death Valley,’ characterized by a lack of access to patient capital. It is even harder to overcome for an impact-first project. Our current crisis is a unique moment to initiate economic recovery with a collective mindset, with more flexibility for impact projects, a long term perspective and a common measurement framework.

Related Events

  • PFC Webinar: COVID-19, Data and Evidence-based Grantmaking – May 13, 2 p.m.

    Using the case study of the Impact Hub global network, the Consortium will examine how the SDG framework could serve as a unit of measurement for data. Register here

  • Together-Ensemble 2020 National Forum on SDGs:
    Unveiling of the Accélérer 2030 pour le Québec Consortium – May 22, 11 a.m.

    The Consortium will publicly introduce itself and its founding members at the National Forum on SDGs. Canadian foundations are invited to this presentation. Register here


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