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SDG Philanthropy Platform High-level Roundtable Meeting in India

High-level roundtable meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -Philanthropy Platform Imperial Hall, The Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai, Tuesday, 24th January 2017.


  1. The high-level roundtable meeting was organised in collaboration between UNDP, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), Foundation Centre, Avasant Foundation, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs (Stanford A&E), Oak Foundation, and the Global Fund for Women. The key objective of the roundtable meeting was to explore how Indian philanthropy can collaborate more with the UN and the government to achieve the SDGs in India.

    The roundtable meeting was moderated by Heather Grady, Vice President of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). Key roundtable meeting organisers included Karolina Mzyk Callias, Policy Specialist, SDG Philanthropy Platform; Radhika Shah, SDG Philanthropy Platform Advisor and CoPresident Stanford A&E; Ruchi Mohanty, Partnership Specialist UNDP, and Advisor SDG Philanthropy Platform India; and Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, UNDP India.

    Radhika Shah introduced the SDG Philanthropy Platform, gave examples of other country pilots; accelerants in India such as women's empowerment for SDGs on poverty alleviation, education, and sustainable employment; and the role of data & scalable technology innovation. Ruchi Mohanty, talked about identifying scalable solutions and mentioned a multi-stakeholder UN Private-Public Partnerships Forum for the SDGs to tackle development priorities of India.
  2. Invited speakers Mr. Anurag Goel, Former Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Former Member, Competition Commission of India set the context for the SDGs in India and talked about how government, donors and the UN can come together to achieve the Goals; Paula Mariwala, Founder & Co-President at Stanford A&E India, and ED Seedfund talked about reducing silos and philanthropists collaborating with social entrepreneurs; Dr. Pragnya Ram, Group Executive President at Aditya Birla Group talked about women's skill development programs and young philanthropists wanting to see data to measure impact.

    Attendees such as Philanthropist Dr. Rati Godrej of the Godrej Group, Apoorva Oza CEO of Aga Khan RDI, Ravi Mariwala founder of Smaart Water, Namita Vikas of Yes Bank, Paresh Parasnis head of Piramal Foundation, Amit Bhatia founder of ASPIRE India, Sanvar Oberoi of Boheco, representatives from the Azim Premji Foundation, Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, Ekstep, Dasra and others shared perspectives on a wide range of topics including deep collaboration and knowledge sharing from sectors such as health, the importance of data and scaling innovation, the ideal size units to focus on - blocks vs villages or states, blended finance models such as impact bonds and credit options for women, policy inputs on CSR law to fund social entrepreneurs and more.
  3. The session opened with an introduction to the topic of philanthropy and the SDGs in India by Karolina Mzyk Callias, Policy Specialist, SDG Philanthropy Platform. Country Director, UNDP India, Jaco Cilliers provided a welcoming address, highlighting the role of the SDG framework, and the SDG Philanthropy Platform to partners in India and the critical role of collaboration and partnerships, saying, "The Platform offers to maximise our strengths by leveraging from each other's".
  4. Jaco Cilliers stated that the SDGs provide an integrated framework for development and partnerships are critical for the success of the SDGs. SDGs need scale and the development community must collaborate to build on thousands of successful pilot projects and interventions.
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  6. Jaco Cilliers invited participants to discuss possible priorities for India listed below.
  7. The session, 'SDGs and India – Setting the Context', was opened by Anurag Goel, Former Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Former Member, Competition Commission of India, and Adviser to the Government of Assam on SDGs.
  8. Mr. Anurag Goel stated that the Government of India wholeheartedly supports the SDGs, and is aligning SDGs with its key national priorities. He noted that "Government, donors and the UN can come together to achieve the Goals, the government cannot achieve the SDGs without you on board". Mr. Goel discussed that the massive scale of the SDGs need disruptive innovations.
  9. On the role of philanthropy to help achieve the SDGs, Mr. Anurag Goel stated that "Governments need philanthropy's knowledge and expertise to disrupt and find solutions", noting that the philanthropy sector should 'Dovetail its work with the government to minimise duplication" of efforts.
  10. The following session was opened, on the topic of 'Philanthropy’s Perspectives on Investing in Women’s Empowerment and the SDGs in India', with the introduction of speakers Paula Mariwala, Founder & Co-President at Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs India, and Executive Director of Seedfund; Dr. Pragnya Ram, Group Executive President at Aditya Birla Group; and Dr. Rati Godrej of the Godrej Group.
  11. On the topic of reducing siloes, Paula Mariwala stated that "You cannot work alone, whether you are an entrepreneur or a philanthropist". She explained that a large divide in the ecosystem of players and institutions reduces opportunity.
  12. Dr. Pragnya Ram, of the Aditya Birla Group discussed working with women through sustainable skills-development programs, including with clothing retail group 'The Collective', with the skills development program reaching 7.5 million people across India.
  13. On data, youth and the SDGs, Dr. Pragnya Ram stated that young philanthropists want to see data, to measure impact and see the difference. On the topic of funding, she discussed that funding is not the only relevant form of engagement in development activities, where a "Platform like this comes at a great time", to engage stakeholders in partnerships.
  14. Radhika Shah, Co-President, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs and Advisor to the SDG Philanthropy Platform, presented on the Platform. On the topic of data, and the role of the Platform as a facilitator for collaboration, she stated, "The Platform provides access to data, we can map the key actors and work together".
  15. On the future of the Platform in India, Radhika Shah stated that they intend to bring in the power of the Silicon Valley Indian diaspora to enhance and leverage resources.
  16. A interactive discussion was opened to allow the exchange of perspectives on the way forward in India.
  17. Gayatri Divecha, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, from HSBC India, stated that the bank requests all grants from CSR fund to be mapped against the CSR.