Keeping Score on Global Goals

Kristen Dailey of Global Washington stands on stage in front of a screen showing the UN's sustainable development goals

By Catherine Salgado, Minerva Strategies—


The Seattle Minerva team recently took a day out of our hectic schedules to attend Global Washington’s Goalmakers 2019 Conference. This annual event convenes organizations from across Washington state that are working on global development, and this year, GlobalWA focused on efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If you don’t know about the SDGs, you can read all about them here. The short story is that they’re a set of 17 ambitious goals for human development that the whole world has pledged to meet by 2030. Many governments, nonprofits, and philanthropies are working tirelessly to achieve the SDGs. GlobalWA’s conference was a great opportunity to take a step back and hear from experts on how to expand our impact through better narratives, collaboration, innovative business practices, and the right use of data.

The day kicked off with an opening plenary panel that brought together representatives of Breakthrough, Girl Rising, Vulcan Productions, and HRH Media Group LLC. The discussion focused on the use of multimedia to inspire social change. These experts highlighted the importance of having defined goals and audiences before embarking on the creative process. They also spoke about the constraints nonprofits face—such as limited financial resources—and how they can make the most of what they’ve got.

A major theme of the day was data and the critical role they play in enabling us to track progress toward a more equitable world. Panelists from Microsoft, Landesa, and PwC UK shared their thoughts about data tracking for the SDGs, the challenges they confront while tracking progress, and the power data hold as a tool to shape policy and improve lives.

Data also loomed large in the engaging conversation between Tony Pipa from the Brookings Institution, who led the U.S. delegation that negotiated and adopted the SDGs, and Alex Reid, head of the Goalkeepers at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They highlighted the importance of integrating SDGs into all of our work and using stories, data, and partnerships to help achieve them. In a memorable quote from Ms. Reid, she reminded us that “data is sexy.”

As much as the Minerva team appreciates the headiness of data, the day’s highlight was all about heart.  The 2019 Global Hero Award was presented to Celeste A. Mergens, founder and CEO of Days for Girls International which provides menstrual care and education to girls across the globe. Celeste shared why she created the organization and the positive impact it has on more than one million girls. Celeste’s work with Days for Girls links directly to SDG5, achieving gender equity and empowering all women and girls.

Minerva has a lot to say about menstrual hygiene health and we are strong believers that periods shouldn’t keep girls from reaching their full potential. We found Celeste’s speech truly inspiring; she proves how passionate and resolute one must be to work on global issues and effect change.

The Goalmakers Conference was fulfilling in many ways. The amount of talent, passion, and commitment that individuals and organizations across the Pacific Northwest hold is outstanding. Knowing that many of the attendees are leading innovative programs and working at all levels to achieve the SDGs is admirable.

Lastly, there is plenty of work to be done to achieve the SDGs and communication—about progress, lessons learned, and best practices—is key.

If you are interested in joining global efforts and being part of the conversation, check out

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.