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Presentation of the final publication
At least six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the Agenda depend on how well families fulfill their role. This is the main conclusion of a four-year study coordinated by Unicef Office of Research - Innocenti, with academics experts from the five continents, and promoted by the International Federation for Family Development. The final outcome has just been published online by UNICEF and launched during the annual observance of the International Day of the Families at the United Nations, 15th May 2020.
Dominic Richardson, Chief of Social Policy and Economic Analysis at UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, said that this report is especially timely, as the Goals are due in less that a decade from now, and the Agenda signed by all governments of the world in 2015 set their contents, but not how to achieve them. In this study most of the world regions are covered by analyzing over 150 quality-assured family policy studies, evaluations and literature reviews. He also pointed that even thought COVID-19 has disrupted the first year of the final decade of action to achieve the SDGs, families are key to reaching these goals and strengthening our crisis response.
The publication provides evidence across the SDGS related to poverty, health, education, gender equality, youth unemployment, and ending violence. It highlights important messages and data for each individual goal, as well as cross-goal considerations. Additionally, spill-over effects of policies from one SDG to another were observed. For example, well-designed family poverty interventions have positive spill-overs into education and health. In sum, the report shows how family policies can work to affect the Goals; how the perspectives and support of non-government actors can contribute to it; and how family attributes impact those interventions. The report is designed for policy-makers and practitioners as a guide in their daily work.


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Presentation of results
The team of family policy experts have compiled a Synthesis Report ‘Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals’ to analyse how these policies are being used to meet the SDGs. It was presented on May 16th, 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York, with the participation of a good number of Member States, academic experts and representatives or civil society.


The report summarises the evidence across six SDGs: poverty; health; education; gender equality; youth unemployment; and ending violence - all of which can be positively impacted by well-designed family-focused policies. By analyzing over 150 quality-assured family policy studies, evaluations and literature reviews, every region of the world is covered, with the sole exception of the Middle East.
Evidence across the six SDGs shows that family-focused interventions are often positively evaluated, with desired effects on family outcomes being achieved to varying degrees in the majority of cases across all goals. However, there is no ‘silver bullet’ in family policy or programme design. Instead, aspects of different policies are shown to be effective when designed for a specific purpose. Additionally, implementation choi¬ces impact results, including where the policies are hosted and who is involved in their application.
Spill-over effects of policies from one SDG to another were observed. For example, well-designed family poverty interventions have positive spill-overs into education and health. This indicates opportunities for optimizing effects within and across social progress measures by integrating policy portfolios. Equally, poorly-designed policies can negatively impact the outcomes in other goal areas, highlighting the need to consider the order of interventions. For example, efforts to address employment outcomes for women will be sub-optimal whilst gender inequality in leave entitlements continue to exist.


The report highlights key messages for each individual goal, as well as cross-goal considerations for policy¬makers and practitioners. Firstly, the review clearly shows the need for more data on the family. National and international organisations can work together to build the evidence base, and in doing so, support evidence-informed family policy, cross-sector integration, and implementation strategies.
Secondly, policymakers and practitioners should recognize that, although global goals are the same, a family policy will not work in the same way in different contexts. This indicates a need for further evidence on the scalability and transfer of family policies. Comparative studies, including this report, can only provide an indication of potentially effective practices rather than a prescription for action.
Finally, evidence shows that family environments can be the cause of and solution to negative social outcomes. Practitioners working with families should be conscious of the important role played by family professionals, early interventions, and family involvement in physical and mental health treatment.


Download the Complete Final Report ...
Download the Synthesis Report ...
Download the Synthesis Report [Spanish] ...
Presentation at the UN HQ - New York (16th May 2018) ...
Presentation in Barcelona (27h September 2018) ...
Presentation in Madrid (27h September 2018) ...
Presentations in Brazil (21st-24th May 2019) ...
Presentations in Chile (27th-29th May 2019) ...
Presentations in Argentina (30th-31st May 2019) ...
Presentation in Colombia (6th September 2019) ...

About the Project
The family is the fundamental social unit of all modern societies. We learn to communicate, to empathise, to compromise within these small, vital social structures. The importance of the family is reflected in national public policies, such as child allowances and paternity leave, which focus on family policies as a way to improve the living standards of future generations. Thus, families, and the national policies that support them, play an important role in national efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Former UN Secretary General in 2010 stated that “the very achievement of development goals depends on how well families are empowered to contribute to the achievement of those goals. Thus, policies focusing on improving the well-being of families are certain to benefit development.”
Given these realities, understanding how families contribute to social progress is key to finding the most effective route to achieving the SDGs. Despite this, global data on families is lacking, prompting the UN Secretary General in 2014 to call on governments and relevant stakeholders to “support data collection and research on family issues and the impact of public policy on families and invest in family-oriented policy and programme design, implementation and evaluation.”


The study highlights the importance of working for families, and with families, in order to meet the SDGs. Efficiencies in complementary goals show that even single-purpose policies can achieve multiple goals. As an elementary social unit, the progress of families will inevitably influence the progress of the societies in which they are part. Those seeking to meet the SDGs should not underestimate the role of strong families as enabling agents for achieving the SDGs.

Experts and Staff
Dominic Richardson
Academic Coordinator
Senior Education Specialist, UNICEF, Office of Research, Innocenti (Florence).
Esuna Dugarova
Policy Specialist at United Nations Development Programme (New York).
Daryl Higgins
Director at the Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University (Melbourne).
Keiko Hirao
Professor on Family and social sustainability at Sophia University, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies (Tokyo).
Zitha Mokomane
Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Mihaela Robila
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Queens College, City University of New York.
Ignacio Socias
General Coordinator
Director of International Relations of the International Federation for Family Development and Director of International Relations of The Family Watch.
Irma Rognoni
Strategic Adviser
City Councilor of Barcelona (2011-2015 and 2015-2019).
Alex Vazquez
Project Manager
Permanent representative to the United Nations of the International Federation for Family Development in New York.

First Global Meeting

First Global Meeting - Barcelona
The first Global Meeting (Barcelona, 10-11 November 2016) has defined the chapter content and structures, timelines for deliverables, and expectations for the boundaries of the discussions in each paper of each sustainable development goal (target and indicator). The meeting also addressed expectations in the academic expert groups regarding the types of review and analysis required, quality assurance issues, as well as providing an early opportunity to share expertise and information on data sources and salient literature and policies.


The welcome session was also attended by Josep Oliva (CaixaBank Foundation), Javier Vidal-Quadras (Secretary General, IFFD) and Xavier Trias (former Mayor of Barcelona).

Second Global Meeting - San José de Costa Rica


The opening session of the second Global Meeting of SDGs & Families Project, held in San Jose on 23-25 May 2017, was inaugurated by the President of the Parliament of Costa Rica, Mr. Gonzalo Ramírez Zamora. The meeting gathered not only the members of the global research team, but also the United Nations Focal Point on Family, Mrs. Renata Kaczmarska, and some regional experts from Mexico and Brazil. The goal was to assess the development of the project, aimed to define well-being global family indicators.
The Deputy Mayor of San Jose, Mrs. Paula Vargas Ramírez, and several experts in family policies of the Municipality intervened in one of the sessions.


Third Global Meeting - New York City


The final Global Meeting took place in New York City from 7 to 8 December 2017. The first day of third meeting was devoted to the discussion of the finalization of each chapter, the synthesis report and the basic guidelines of the dissemination plan. During the second day, some external advisors from UN staff, permanent missions of member states and civil society representatives were part of the discussion and provided feedback about the project’s conclusions and recommendations.
The final main outcome of the project will be finished by April 2018 and the presentation will be on the occasion of the International Day of Families (15-16 May 2018).


Main Sponsors
Stiftung Maienburg

With the support of
San José
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