Engaging local CSOs to achieve sustainable development: the Peru 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program

Engaging local CSOs to achieve sustainable development: the Peru 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program

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Problems and Purpose

In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), which contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), was adopted by UN member states (United Nations, 2015). It came into force in 2016, providing a global framework to “end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind” (United Nations, 2018). To achieve the SDGs, global citizen engagement is crucial, as is local involvement in these global efforts. Engaging and empowering citizens with a sense of ownership over sustainable development processes is, therefore, key to ensuring that this global action plan is locally relevant.

In Peru, The Millennials Movement (TMM) has recognized the importance of ensuring development outcomes are validated by grassroots organizations and citizens through inclusive and participatory processes. In 2016, it launched the Peru 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program (the Program) to promote a sense of empowerment and ownership among local civil society organizations of the sustainable development processes in their communities.

The purpose of the Program has been to strengthen the capacity of CSOs to effectively involve local citizens to support the 2030 Agenda. Through capacity building, the implementation of actions and citizen monitoring processes, the Program has sought to:

  • gather relevant data to understand the contributions made by CSOs at the national level;
  • help CSOs align their institutional goals and actions with the SDGs;
  • promote the educated and empowered participation of CSOs on Peru’s development process to 2030; and
  • promote the engagement of citizens through concrete actions delivered by local CSOs in their communities.

Background History and Context

Civil society organizations (CSOs) have long been major contributors to community development processes in Peru and in other communities globally—addressing unattended needs and aspirations of citizens with innovative responses and promoting active citizenship and community engagement.

A precursor to the 2030 Agenda, the Millennium Development Agenda was adopted in 2000 and provided a 15-year action plan for global development. It was the first global effort to articulate and define goals to tackle poverty. However, direct citizen and local CSOs engagement in defining, implementing, and measuring these goals was limited. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted post-2015 through a process that included a series of consultations and surveys to gather opinions and aspirations in hopes of making the new Agenda meaningfully inclusive. As part of this process, TMM surveyed over 38,000 Peruvians, adding their voices to the 9 million people surveyed globally through the UN My World 2015 Survey.

In 2016, the 2030 Agenda ushered in a new era of global development. In contrast to its predecessor, this call for global action relies on the engagement of citizens and local actors as development enablers in open participatory processes to bridge local challenges with global action.

The 2030 Agenda calls for CSOs to actively contribute to the implementation of the SDGs by:

  • contextualizing the Agenda’s principles, goals, and targets for their local reality;
  • sensitizing citizens about its scope;
  • facilitating inter-agency local alliances for development; and
  • carrying out concrete actions to promote, implement, and monitor the Agenda.

In this context, TMM launched the Peru 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program to engage Peruvian civil society in pursuing this 2030 Agenda.

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The Millennials Movement (TMM) is a Peruvian civil society organization that promotes citizen engagement in the sustainable development of their communities, advocating for open democracies and community action. It operates through volunteer-led effort and finances its programs through a “Project Budget Zero” partnership strategy, which is based on first developing project proposal and subsequently identifying partners that can contribute the required resources and logistical support.

The partnerships supporting the Peru 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program came about through this strategy and include strategic alliance with The World We Want platform, the UN Inter Agency Network for Youth Development Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality,  the UN SDG Action Campaign for My World 2030, The Young Americas Business Trust, and Project Everyone–The World´s Largest Lesson.

The Program has also benefitted from collaborations with the UN Information Center CINU LIMA, the Interquorum Network, and the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Peru.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The 2030 Agenda Ambassadors Program engaged members of Peruvian CSOs as participants in a 6-month initiative encompassing six stages:

  1. recruitment through a call for participation;
  2. participant selection;
  3. capacity building;
  4. implementation of community actions;
  5. systematization; and,
  6. certification.

The recruitment and selection stages were critical to promote inclusive participation in the program. A call for participation was made through email, Facebook, and Twitter and was disseminated through databases of current allies and through partnering with key organizations with national networks to ensure a relevant reach and significant geographical coverage. This way, TMM was able to reach organizations with no Internet connectivity or that were beyond their main group of allies.

The call included a list of eligibility requirements for prospective participants. While there was no restriction regarding CSOs members’ spheres of action, gender, or sector of work, the organizations needed to:

  • have a proven record of at least 2 years of operation;
  • enroll a minimum of three members to participate in the full Program;
  • enroll members who were at least 18 years of age;
  • have previously participated in volunteering activities; and
  • have no affiliation with any political party.

Open calls were active for 3-week periods in June 2016 and in April 2017 for the program’s first and second phases, respectively. The calls yielded 38 applications from 16 geographical regions in 2016, and over 100 applications from 21 regions in 2017.

The selection process included confirmation of eligibility and background research through social media on candidate organizations’ previous activities. Twenty-two CSOs were selected for the first phase, representing 16 regions, and 80 CSOs from 21 regions were selected in the second phase. In both, CSOs mandates focused on diverse issues, including religious freedom, gender, environmental preservation and sustainability, and human rights to name a few. Selected CSOs were notified through their “Team Focal Person,” as designated in the application as the key contact for communication with TMM.

Methods and Tools Used

The Peru Ambassadors 2030 Program is designed around the “molecular approach for local sustainable development theory,” developed by Rosario Diaz Garavito, the Millennials Movement Founder and Executive Director (see Diaz Garavito, 2017). The theory implies that each action individuals take every day can either contribute to sustainable development in their community or work against it. Based on this, there is a need to work with “enablers”— local actors who can catalyze local citizen engagement in the types of daily actions that promote sustainable development. The program, thus, supports the participating members of CSOs (i.e., the “Ambassadors”) to be those enablers through the following methods:

Civic capacity building: a sensitization and educational program aimed at building the knowledge of Ambassadors around the 2030 Agenda and increasing their capacity to deliver actions that engage local citizens to promote sustainable development.

As a result of these capacity-building sessions, Ambassadors were equipped to lead a series of six activities, many of which focused on participatory citizen engagement, particularly through the use of the following methods:

Public interventions: using public spaces as meeting and discussion points to sensitize and involve individuals in the achievement of the SDGs through actions on local issues and challenges.

Awareness raising and education: a number of actions aimed at enhancing the public’s awareness of the SDGs and connecting them to their own daily lives and actions, including workshops, conferences, and public school engagement.

Participatory monitoring: surveying citizens to identify the most important SDGs for their community, and engaging them in monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

In the capacity-building stage

Following participant recruitment and selection, the capacity-building process was undertaken in July 2016 and in May 2017 for each respective phase. The aim was to create possibilities for participants (Ambassadors) to become “enablers” and to be empowered as citizens. With the information, knowledge, and tools provided, it was anticipated that the Ambassadors would develop a sense of ownership of the community development process and foster civic actions in their communities.

To this end, three online training session with 36 participants (in 2016) and five online sessions for 58 participants (in 2017) were delivered through a strategic alliance with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), who provided the online platform for session delivery, and facilitated the human resources needed to cover the logistics. The 90-minute sessions covered the implementation and monitoring processes for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, gender equality as a crosscutting approach, the role of CSOs and youth in the achieving the SDGs, and the importance of inclusive approaches to “leave no one behind” in this process. Sessions were led by experts representing diverse sectors such as government, CSOs, academia, research, and youth leadership in the Americas.

In order to ensure commitment beyond the capacity-building process, participants conducted a follow-up evaluation seven days after the sessions, and recordings of all sessions were made available for future reference. Finally, each team leader assessed their team members’ performance as part of the evaluation for certification. 

In the implementation stage

In the four months following the trainings, Ambassadors implemented a series of six actions in their communities, putting into practice the knowledge and skills acquired. Ambassadors also had access to an Action Toolkit developed by TMM and its strategic allies, which provided guidance and support in planning and implementing actions to engage citizens in the sustainable development agenda in their communities. Activities varied from community to community, and included the following:

  • Community 2030
  • My Most Important SDG
  • School 2030
  • Conferences and Workshops
  • My World 2030 UN Survey 
  • Impacting from my Sphere of Action

Through this suite of activities, Ambassadors engaged citizens through public interventions and dialogues, awareness raising and education, and participatory monitoring.

Public interventions:

Through Community 2030 activities, Ambassadors used public spaces as a meeting point and engaged citizens in discussions aimed at sensitizing and involving them in the achievement of the SDGs. In 26 communities, 30 public dialogues were held with 2465 local citizens, many of whom made personal commitments for sustainability. These interventions mobilized 42 CSOs and 40 local alliances. 

My Most Important SDG activities encouraged 2781 citizens to select the SDG they felt was most relevant to their daily lives and to make a commitment to personal action— either at work, at home, or at school—that would contribute to achieving that SDG by 2030. For example, people committed to separating their reusable household waste and to disconnect phones chargers at the office when not in use. 

Awareness raising and education:

Ambassadors engaged 902 students in 32 schools across 14 regions through School 2030 activities. Aimed at raising young people’s awareness about the 2030 Agenda, educational activities in led in schools connect the SDGs to students’ daily lives. Four sessions were delivered with each group of students, each one examining a topic of relevance to the national context (see World’s Largest Lesson in the External Links section below).

To raise public awareness more broadly, 151 Ambassadors from 69 local alliances organized and facilitated 35 conferences and workshops. Over 1200 citizens participated in these events, which were aimed at educating the public about the 2030 Agenda and specific, related topics. 

Participatory monitoring:

The My World 2030 survey—conducted through a partnership with the UN SDG Action Campaign—allowed people worldwide to select the six most important SDGs for their communities and to evaluate their implementation at the local level. In Peru, Ambassadors mobilized local constituencies, engaging people in a citizen-led monitoring process that fed into the global survey. The survey was administered to 1540 local citizens. 

Beyond providing a set of platforms for CSOs to interface with citizens and other stakeholders, the Ambassadors Program also contributed to deliberations and decisions within the participating organizations, particularly by supporting them to align their work with the SDGs. Through the Impacting from my Sphere of Action activities, CSOs were encouraged and guided to articulate their organizational goals in explicit alignment with the SDGs. Ambassadors delivered 40 activities, such as engaging citizens in planting over 400 trees in Junin, within their spheres of action, resulting in engaging over 2520 people. Many CSOs realized how their work already contributes to the sustainable development of their communities.

In the systematization and certification stages

During and following the implementation, Ambassadors reported on the actions they undertook as part of the program. TMM was, thus, able to measure the progress and outcomes, as well as to get data indicators related to the gender, age, location, and nature of citizen and volunteer engagement. This further informed the partnerships that TMM maintained with participating CSOs. Finally, the data collected was included in the systematization of the UN My World 2030 survey at the global level.

Certification was issued in recognition of the individual and collective efforts of all CSOs who delivered the six program activities in their communities within established timelines. Individual participation was also recognized, as each member of participating CSOs who supported the program obtained a certificate.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

As a cumulative result of the 2016 and 2017 phases, the Peru 2030 Ambassadors Program has achieved a number of outcomes, including the following.

Building capacity for engagement at a national scale

The Program has built the capacity of 362 members of CSOs and has supported the full participation of 55 CSOs in 21 regions of Peru. Overall, these participants have reached over 10, 000 Peruvian citizens, increasing their awareness of the 2030 Agenda and their willingness to engage in actions in support of it. Additionally, more than 60 local allies—including local authorities, other CSOs, and academic and private sector actors—participated in the implementation of the activities by facilitating spaces or providing institutional support and funding.

Connecting local and global sustainable development

The Program’s partnership strategy helped connect local action to a global process for sustainable development, providing an opportunity to local CSOs to actively contribute to a global effort. In a 2017 consultation of Peruvian CSOs, 90% of respondents reported that the Program represented a relevant space not only to contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but also for building and strengthening their own work as local CSOs working towards sustainable development in their communities (The Millennials Movement, 2017). Local CSOs also participated in a consultation on the frame of the United Nations High Level Political Forum, providing input on challenges and opportunities for CSOs participation in the implementation of 2030 Agenda.

Organizational learning, capacity and profile

Following the program, some of the participating CSOs included approaches consistent with the 2030 Agenda in their organizational plans or launched their own initiatives in support of those. Through the program, participating CSOs accessed trainings with experts, received tools to bring about actions in their communities, contributed to international publications, showcased the work they do in their communities, joined a network of CSOs committed to sustainable development, reinforced relationships within their teams, and have been considered for future opportunities.

Increased collaboration and greater access to decision makers

In leading their community initiatives, many Ambassadors partnered with other (non-participating) local actors and organizations—with the exception of partisan organizations or political activities. This allowed organizations to engage their local governments and mobilize resources in support of the 2030 Agenda. In some cases, partnerships with other local organizations gave Ambassadors access to spaces where decision-makers were active and to opportunities to gain their support.

Influence and engagement of decision makers

The capacity-building program increased the ability of Ambassadors to engage in political advocacy and to influence decision-making processes in their communities from the bottom up. Once the actions were delivered and local authorities sensitized, a number of Ambassadors were able to put their concerns and relevant data—such as the results of the My World 2030 survey—to decision makers and to follow up on policy development and public processes.

Further, local authorities showed great interest during the actions in knowing more about the 2030 Agenda and in engaging in this process. Their engagement was important, since governments are responsible to lead the public process to implement the Agenda in their constituencies. Sensitizing and engaging them in actions towards the achievement of the SDGs alongside CSOs contributed to their accountability to deliver on sustainable development.

Scalability and replicability 

The program started on 2016 as a national pilot initiative that later on 2017 had a second edition duplicating it’s impact and reach. Currently on 2018 we have launched the third edition as the first regional experience engaging 115 local CSO’s leaded by youth or that work with youth in 9 countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, El Salvador) of the Latin American and the Caribbean Region. The third program's edition will run until December of 2018.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Over the program’s two phases, a number of challenges and lessons emerged, including the following:

Limited funding

As a youth-led organization in a developing country, funding is an ongoing issue for the Millennials Movement. To overcome this challenge, the organization has found strategic partnerships as a means to avoid limiting its actions because of a lack of funding. The use of free and low-cost existing ICT tools, for example, webinar platforms and graphic design and data analysis software, was also part of the strategy to overcome the challenge of supporting participating CSOs in more distant regions.

Data management

As a program that generates a high volume of data and connects to global efforts to generate and monitor progress on SDG indicators, data management is critical and challenging. For example, a high volume of responses needs to be filtered, reviewed, and systematized. Once again, the use of ICTs such as Google Drive and the PSPP app was crucial, as was the participation of a volunteer team specialized in data systematization who managed the program data and reporting on outcomes. In elaborating these instruments, it was important to provide clear and user-friendly resources to the participating CSOs, as many were unfamiliar with these kinds of tools. This fostered greater uptake from CSOs and, in some cases, citizens who themselves were collecting data.

CSO retention

While 80 CSOs were selected to participate in the program’s second phase, only 38 successfully completed the process. Nonetheless, members from 56 participating CSOs completed the online trainings and were awarded an online certificate of participation. Though participation through to completion was a challenge, this still represents an achievement, given that a key program goal is to promote the informed participation of CSOs in implementing citizen-led monitoring processes of the 2030 SDGs. This learning reinforces the importance of having online training sessions that are sufficiently creative to keep the training dynamic and engaging throughout the capacity-building process.

Publicizing activities and disseminating results

It was important for the participating CSOs to publicize their activities and the outcomes achieved, as well as to obtain more followers. Yet, The Millennials Movement’s existing platform proved to be ill-suited as for this. To resolve this, a new online platform was created to showcase the achievements of participating CSOs, which required additional human resources to effectively manage the platform and to encourage participants to share this space and build an audience.

Balancing ownership of the process with support

To respond to citizens’ and communities’ expressed desire to learn and access information during the implementation of local activities, it proved important for Ambassadors to adapt the information and knowledge to their local context and to the particular groups with which they were engaging. To effectively engage local citizens and communities through their activities, CSOs were left with some freedom to plan and deliver the program in a way they judged locally-appropriate, rather than being tied to following rigid instructions. The role of TMM was, therefore, one of support, rather than direction.

Importance of recognizing achievement

Finally, the activities recognizing outstanding participation have contributed further to empowering participant CSOs.


See Also

Participatory Budgeting in Ilo, Peru (1999- )

Villa El Salvador Participatory Budgeting (Peru)


Diaz Garavito, R. (2017, March 2). Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito (The Millennials Movement) and Nadira Hira (Writer, Speaker, Host) - Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development (Bonn 2017) - Live Stage [Video file]. Retrieved from http://webtv.un.org/search/rosario-del-pilar-diaz-garavito-the-millennials-movement-and-nadira-hira-writer-speaker-host-global-festival-of-ideas-for-sustainable-development-bonn-2017-live-stage/5346238405001/?term=the%20millennials%20movement&sort=date

The Millennials Movement. (2017). Consulta para Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil: Implementemos Juntos la Agenda 2030 Perú. Retrieved from http://nebula.wsimg.com/7406fe1118cdc92e1fdb06d7780b620c?AccessKeyId=E3A2183630CD52C7534E&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015. A/RES/70/1. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E

United Nations. (2018). The Sustainable Development Agenda. Accessed June 25, 2018 from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/

External Links

2030 Peru Ambassadors Program Social Media platform:

2030 Peru Ambassadors Program Full Report (2016):

SDG Action Campaign

Young Americas Business Trust

The World’s Largest Lesson

World’s Largest Lesson: Scope and Outcomes of Schools 2030: https://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org/map/index.html

The World We Want platform


The first submission of this entry was written by a graduate of the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University with support from J. Landry and R. Garbary.

Case Data



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Start Date: 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
End Date: 
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Total Number of Participants: 
10 000
Targeted Participants (Demographics): 
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Civil Society Organizations representatives


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Who else supported the initiative? : 
SDG Action Campaign, Project Everyone, The World We Want Platform, Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean ECLAC, JCI Peru, Interquorum Network, Regional Center for Youth


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