Localizing Sustainable Development Goals

Madurai symposium, since its inception in 2003, has emerged as development knowledge place where various stakeholders' people/community institutions, civil societies, Government, NGOs, Banks, donors, philanthropies and academia share, learn from each others' experience and practices and looks at opportunities for collaborative endeavours. The Symposium attracts over 15,000 participants and the one being organized in 2015 is the seventh edition. The theme of the Symposium – 2015 is 'Localizing Sustainable Development Goals'.

MDGs to SDGs

The global development agenda of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which defined our development interventions to impact poverty, gender, education and health will be coming to a close in 2015. The MDGs campaign made considerable progress globally in addressing hunger and poverty, though a lot remains to be done in eliminating poverty, health and education. In asking the question what next the global community has already started debating on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are broader in scope in identifying the development priorities based on the assessment of the progress made by MDGs. Poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protection and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development. People are at the centre of sustainable development and, in this regard, it is vital to strive for a world that is just, equitable and inclusive, and natural committed to work together to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection and thereby to benefit all, in particular the children of the world, youth and future generations of the world without distinction of any kind such as age, sex, disability, culture, race, ethnicity, origin, migratory status, religion, economic or other status. It also takes into account new areas of development concern such as climate change, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable consumption and production and thereby sustainable, inclusive, social economic development.

Sustainable Development Goals seeks to build on the foundation laid by the MDGs, complete the unfinished business of the MDGs and respond to new challenges. Sustainable Development Goals are accompanied by targets and will be further elaborated through indicators focussed on measurable outcomes. They are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. They take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect national policies and priorities. The Goals are

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  • Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

It can be seen that while some goals are extension of MDGs, new goals have been identified from the sustainability perspective relating to water, energy, agriculture, production and consumption, natural resources such as forests, biodiversity and ecosystems. While the SDGs await global launch in September 2015, it is in the fitness of things that Madurai Symposium looks at contextualizing the SDGs. Which means localizing the SDGs with people / communities at large, development stakeholders. Setting the priorities from actionable perspective with the time bound road map. The priorities broadly include gender equality and women empowerment, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, combat climate change, sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy etc.,


Women empowerment and Gender equality

Few development programmes have made such a transformative impact as the Self Help Programme of women with micro finance as the pivot of all development interventions. SHG bank linkage programme in India enabling access to financial services stand out as a unique model in engendering development in general and promoting gender equality and women empowerment in particular. SHGs of women as development institutions have been advancing social and economical inclusion and not just financial inclusion.

Millions of poor women are taking control of their lives moving towards self management and self reliance. Many assume leadership role, organise the unorganised and emerge as an effective demand stream. Among the large and sustainable SHG programmes, the Kalanjium community banking programme promoted by DHAN Foundation is celebrating 25 years of its work in empowerment of women through SHG bank linkage. The 3D impact of Kalanjium from the perspective of development, institutional and financial on women empowerment has been a trail blazer. It is of greater interest to look ahead on the future possibilities this symposium would mark the watershed in celebrating the achievements in terms of empowering women as also enlarging the scope of empowerment and gender equality.

“HE” for She

The deprivations faced by women / girls are many and most important among them are Health and Education. Due to lack of access to Education and Healthcare they are rendered vulnerable and disempowered. It is also puts them to a greater disadvantage in realising their full potential and participating in the growth process. Women and girls lack access to the most basic amenity of sanitation and clean drinking water which has adversely impacted their health. Affordable and appropriate amenities and technologies to address the basic requirements are to be in place with sense of urgency. The focus of the universal health coverage including access to quality healthcare services, access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, health insurance need to be greater for women. In this respect, community healthcare targeting women and girls need to be strengthened and expanded addressing health promotion, prevention of diseases and curative treatment. Public, private and community actions in universal health coverage and its strengths, weakness, opportunities, challenges would be shared among the various stakeholders.

Access to quality education and above all the barriers – social, cultural, economic, women and girls confront continue to remain as a greater challenge. Besides the basic education imparting skills including technical, vocational for decent jobs / employment and entrepreneurship call for greater attention. There is also an urgent need to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable including persons with disabilities, indigenous people. Unique and innovative models for education which promote general and functional literacy and more important lives skills would be presented to stakeholders.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food / Nutritional security

It is widely acknowledged that agriculture driven by methods and practices of Green revolution has increasingly become unsustainable with its excessive demand on resources and inputs. There is also the challenge posed by diversion of cultivable lands to meet the demands of urbanisation. The world is looking at the possibilities of lab replacing lands to sustain the agriculture and the production of food and other agricultural commodities. More crop per drop is no longer a buzz word but in necessity as the world faces the stark reality of water shortage and scarcity. Precision farming with complete optimisation of inputs for a given agriculture outputs is another imperative in Tank based and Rainfed ecosystems. By far, even greater challenge lies in sustaining agriculture enhancing agriculture productivity in small farms / small scale food producers particularly women, indigenous people, pastoralists and fishers through equal access to land and other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and nonfarm employment. There is also a need to ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality. Not to speak of the need to maintain genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at national, regional and international levels, and ensure access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resourced and associated traditional knowledge as internationally agreed.

Agro Bio-diversity and climate change

Over the years, we have been witness to erosion in the bio-diversity owing to the mono culture driven by commercial considerations and food security concerns and not paying adequate attention to preserve the existing bio-diversity. Lately, we have realised along with growing global concern that unless this process is reversed, the long term sustainability of farming would be at risk, which is compounded by the climate change. As a part of our strategy to address the challenges of climate change, we need to develop cropping pattern to cope up with droughts and floods. In this respect, we need to critically look at how the public policies encourage mainstreaming biodiversity practices with farmers' participation complemented by the Government and civil societies' actions.

The risks posed by climate change and its impact on agricultural productivity, water resources, coastal ecosystems, energy and even health in south Asia has been highlighted in the global reports. And the urgency of adaptation measures and those to cope up with and mitigate cannot be over emphasised. The experiences and lessons learnt so far need to be looked at for the future.


Conferences, Seminars and Workshops

Illustrated above are some of the urgent priorities arising out of the frame work of sustainable development goals from the Indian contextual perspectives. What is more important is the need to recognise the wide disparities among states and even among districts in the country in relation to SDGs and its targets. This brings us to the most important operational perspective on SDGs – localizing the SDGs and setting the targets. Development stakeholders would have the opportunity of deliberating on the issue of localization in several conferences, seminars and workshops.

Furthermore, there is a need to juxtapose SDGs with the contemporary programmes of poverty reduction thereby enabling advancing the development. The issues of localization related to each of the themes in different contexts would be the focuses of the several conferences/ seminars/workshops. These conferences/seminars/workshops would provide a platform to facilitate cross learning through case studies, success stories, research findings, etc.

For a day-wise schedule, please see our Participate page.

People Conventions

The success of any intervention lies in the greater participation and involvement of the target community in the development projects/programmes and by extension identifying the development problems and setting the priorities. The community organizations are promoted by NGOs and Government in different social capital forms such as federations, associations etc. In order that SDGs are internalized by the communities and programmes and activities implemented to create long lasting impact, the vibrancy of governance (community leadership) and local management built through enabling and empowerment approach is very crucial. The experiences of such development processes need to be shared and greater learning has to be taken out of those experiences for achieving the MDGs. The people conventions would facilitate such learning and knowledge building process among the communities and across the stakeholders around the theme of MDGs. Madurai Symposium 2009 would take stock of practical experiences in achieving MDGs and act as a knowledge sharing platform which would lead to new initiatives.

For a day-wise schedule, please see our Participate page.

Events for the Public

Cultural Evenings

Reviving and preserving traditional folk and arts is need of the hour which is still relevant to present context. The Symposium would create an opportunity for the folk and traditional artists to perform variety of cultural programmes to exhibit their talents. This would facilitate the development stakeholders to find a way for promoting and preserving the traditional folks and arts which are the symbols of ancient Indian culture.


There is need for greater awareness of the public about the development sector and more particularly SDGs and its contribution for the country's growth and development. The Symposium 2015 would attract the public from the city to get exposed to the talents and creativity of the poor people/communities through exhibition of crafts and wares made by them.

Development Film Festival

Screening development films for the development stakeholders including the public is one of the conventions in the Symposium. Exciting experiences of different development interventions would be displayed through this event to sensitize the stakeholders, communities and common public on various development initiatives and interventions. The best films would be recognized and suitably awarded. For more details, visit http://www.dhan.org/dff


The members of micro finance groups, farmers associations, communities representing Panchayat institutions would organize rallies to create awareness and sensitize the public in Madurai City about the MDGs and achievements of different stakeholders.

How to Participate

Nominations for Events

The Facilitation Committee of the 2015 Madurai Symposium invites NGOs, academic and research institutions, Government Organizations, industries, banks, donor organizations, entrepreneurs, producer companies and cooperatives to host conventions, seminars, workshops and conferences on topics relevant to the theme of the Symposium. The Committee would facilitate logistics and other needed support for the events organized by the host organizations.

To register as an event host, please download and complete the following registration form and email it to maduraisymposium@dhan.org.

12 September 2015

13 September 2015

14 September 2015

15 September 2015

16 September 2015

Madurai Symposium 2015

1A, Vaidhyanathapuram East, Kennet Cross Road,
Ellis Nagar, Madurai - 625 016
Tel: +91-452-2302500 / 2610794 / 805 Fax: +91-452-2602247
Email: maduraisymposium@dhan.org
Website: http://www.maduraisymposium.net

Download the Madurai Symposium 2015 Brochure