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Viable Utopias for Sustainable Development: The First Three Years of El Día Después

El Dia Despues

The El Día Después platform has just completed its first three years of activity, an intense and very productive period for an initiative strongly conditioned at first by the pandemic and now evolving and entering a new stage as the project matures.


El Día Después (The Day After) is a multi-stakeholder platform set up to promote transformative conversations and projects aimed at accelerating progress towards the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The platform was created in March 2020 through the joint efforts of ISGlobal, the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development (REDS-SDSN), the Centre for Innovation in Technology for Human Development at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (itdUPM), and Iberdrola. It has just completed its first three years of activity, an intense and very productive period for an initiative strongly conditioned at first by the constraints imposed by the pandemic and now evolving and entering a new stage as the project matures. Now is the time to redesign the structure of the initiative in order to bring in new partners who will strengthen its governance, to update and renew the common aims that underpin all the activities of its participants, and to continue having an impact on society and politics and generating new transformative projects.

A two-minute summary of some of the steps taken in the first year of  'El Día Después".

On March 25 2020, just two weeks after the Spanish government declared the state of emergency that confined us to our homes, El Día Después organised its first virtual conversation on the theme of “The Day After: How do we envision it?” The results of that initial event exceeded all expectations when over 2,000 people registered. This response showed us clearly that our interests were the same as those of many other people concerned about "emerging stronger" from that extraordinary situation. And this how the platform got its name, chosen because it expressed the common desire to learn from experience and come together to accelerate sustainable, inclusive and equitable development in line with the roadmap set out in the 2030 Agenda.

El Día Después: Collective Intelligence

Since its inception in March 2020 and up to the present day, El Día Después has been an effective and exciting adventure: it has kept a spotlight on the importance of the 2030 Agenda in Spain and elsewhere; it has organised transdisciplinary conversations between people from all walks of life as a practical way of addressing the major challenges facing our society; it has contributed to building interpersonal relationships based on mutual trust, which have proved to be very valuable to the participants in El Día Después and their organisations; it has generated an important library of individual and collective materials and learning resources; it has given rise to several transformative projects, created through partnerships; and it has become an attractive space for a very diverse collective of individuals and organisations, where complex issues of great social importance can be addressed in an environment that stimulates dialogue and facilitates the creation of partnerships and transformative initiatives.

Over these three years, we have brought together entities and people of all ages who represent a broad range of ideological currents. Participants from the academic and scientific world, the private sector, public administration and civil society have come together to discuss consensus and dissent on many different and complementary topics. These included common goods, the links between climate change, COVID-19 and sustainable development, the much needed transformation of our cities, the challenges posed by the new patterns of mobility, global governance and development cooperation, the urgency of the dialogue between science, politics and society, the future of work for young people, preventing child poverty and the need for a new social contract to address the SDGs, an issue dealt with in many of our conversations and one that will continue to be very present in the future activities of El Día Después.


Go!ODS award to the "The Day After" platform. Madrid, February 2022.

El Día Después: Dialogue for Social Transformation

Another event created and consolidated during this period is Diálogos para el Día Después (Dialogues about the Day After). The first two meetings in this series took place in Soria in 2021 and 2022, in each case bringing together some 250 people in person and via online connection to discuss and learn more about a range of topics.

El Día Después also has also created an incubator for transformative projects, which has nurtured several new initiatives, including a Platform for Green Employment and Entrepreneurship that connects people in vulnerable situations with the new jobs generated by the green transition, and citiES 2030, a Spanish initiative set up to accelerate and apply the European Commission Mission to achieve 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030. Currently, 13 Spanish cities are participating in citiES 2030, advancing progress towards this ambitious objective by sharing knowledge, experiences and lessons learned.

Our desire to involve the younger generation in the activity of our platform gave rise to the Critical Council, a virtual space where young people are invited to actively take part in cross-community conversations and contribute their views on the issues and strategies discussed on El Día Después.

And all this work has not gone unnoticed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), which has recognised El Día Después as an SDG Good Practice, or by the United Nations Global Compact, which has given the platform the go!ODS Award, in both cases in the category of Partnerships for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Now, three years down the road, we are considering taking on new challenges to achieve our original objective, which remains as valid today as the day we first defined it: the viable utopia of achieving sustainable development based on respect for people, the planet, prosperity and peace and achieved through transformative partnerships—the utopia that lies at the heart of El Día Después and which ISGlobal has been working to achieve from day one.