“The SDGs in Action: Country-led, Country-owned”

Join the conversation at the UNGA Side Event on “The SDGs in Action: Country-led, Country-owned” on 21 September 2017, hosted by UNDG.  Speakers include Heads of State/Government and Ministers from the Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and Colombia as well as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the UNDG Chair. Find more information here

Colombia pioneers the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

In the early days of SDG implementation, the Goals have proven to be a powerful driver of Colombia’s National Development Plan, the Peace Agreement, and local development plans.

In the department of Nariño on the Pacific coast, young people are overcoming adversities and inequalities. Here is their story on how rural entrepreneurship contributes to peaceful communities.

Chocó and Guajira are among the poorest departments in Colombia, but also home to some of the most biodiverse regions. Here, the 2030 Agenda brings an opportunity to plan a future where the environment is the basis for sustainable and inclusive growth.

The City of Montería has become one of Latin America’s greenest cities, linking green urbanism, transportation and renewable energy to the SDGs. Read more about Montería’s journey.

SDG 6 is coming to life – Korean professor invents device for safer drinking water

For the SDGs to come to life, it is often said that we need new ways of working, new partnerships and everyone to participate – not only governments and UN agencies.

Professor Kyoung-Woong Kim has embraced this message. Together with his team at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, he has developed a water purification device with the potential to change the lives of millions of people.

So how does the device work? As a specialist in soil and underground water contamination, Professor Kim has developed a membrane allowing the purification device to selectively remove water pollutants including pathogenic bacteria. This means purifying contaminated water to 99.9% drinking water. What’s more, the device can be easily installed in disaster-affected areas since its design allows water to flow through the membrane by manual pedaling, without any need for electricity.

Today, 663 million people are still without access to safe drinking water. To achieve SDG 6 local communities, researchers and business need to come together.

Through project “Ongdalsam”, or “Small water spring” in Korean, Professor Kim aims to engage with developing countries where climate change, rising sea levels and water-borne diseases caused by polluted drinking water is a threat to development. The project was first known across Korea when it was discovered in 2009 that the device could purify two liters of water per minute, providing drinking water to about 200 people a day. Since then the device has traveled to Sudan, Fiji, and Kiribati and soon to Tuvalu, where climate change is a threat to water security.

Global sustainable development requires more researchers and entrepreneurs to follow in Professor Kim’s footsteps.

SDG10: Reducing inequalities –
Early attention to the rights of girls and boys with disabilities in Mexico

In Mexico, an initiative on reduced inequalities focusing on children with disabilities has improved the lives of 12,000 boys and girls. So far, 350 caregivers in 9 states have been trained to improve the quality of care and to achieve the full development of children’s skills and abilities.

The Mexican Ministry of Social Development leads a Childcare Facilities Program for Working Mothers that includes 9,200 facilities and reaches 300,000 children in poverty-stricken homes; about 1.7% of whom have a disability. A while ago the UN carried out an analysis of the program, which showed that those in charge of caring for children with disabilities, mostly women, did not have the adequate training to detect developmental challenges, nor to provide caring that allowed the children to reach their maximum potential.

This is the background to a pilot initiative* that aims to increase the quality of care for children with disabilities. So far, 350 caregivers in 9 states have been trained, benefiting more than 12 000 girls and boys. Focus lies on early intervention. The idea is that attending to children with disabilities at an early age will foster the full development of their skills and abilities, give better opportunities to complete schooling and ultimately increase their prospects of leading a life as a fully empowered society member. Caregivers were also trained in human rights, diversity, inclusive planning of educational activities, accessibility and development of community support and networks.

All people may at some point in their life experience a disabling situation. It is a universal issue and is as such addressed throughout the SDGs. For these 12,000 boys and girls, the pilot initiative has meant real change and development. This is what the 2030 Agenda is about: implementing public policies that target the most vulnerable to ensure that no one is left behind.

*The pilot initiative “Model of care and inclusive care for children with disabilities in the framework of the Program of Childhood Stages to Support Working Mothers” is funded by the United Nations Fund to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) and brings together UNDP, UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization/WHO. The project seeks to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed by the Mexican government in 2007.

Country-led progress on the SDGs – the journey of The Gambia

Only nine months ago, the Gambia stood on the verge of conflict. Yet since then, the leadership has launched a reform agenda towards a progressive democracy that addresses the needs of all its citizens. A new chapter has begun.

After 22 years of authoritarian rule, The Gambia is facing a unique opportunity for transition. The African Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals can be powerful levers for change as the government stands committed to achieving the SDGs.

25 November 2011, Nyangen – Girl explaining the meaning of the photo she has taken for the Participatory Photo Exhibition at the Reastitution. Boys and girls were asked to describe their village, its problems and its achievements using a digital photo camera.

For the Millennium Development Goals, the precursors to the SDGs, Gambia indeed made significant progress in several areas. Gender equality was one. In 2015, the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting was criminalized, placing The Gambia among 26 other African countries that have banned this nefarious practice. The targets on water and sanitation were met with over 85% of the population having access to clean water and sanitation. Child mortality was significantly reduced.

But unfinished business remains. Many mothers still die while giving birth and The Gambia aims at a maternal mortality ratio of less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 or sooner.

Almost one in three Gambians are vulnerable to food insecurity. To achieve SDG 2, the recently launched National Zero Hunger Strategic Review is identifying hunger gaps at all levels. This will be followed by regional consultative sessions throughout the country.

As a low-lying country, situated close to the sea, The Gambia is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to climate change. To adapt and mitigate the impacts, the government is implementing a series of actions. The Climate Change Early Warning Systems are being strengthened. Energy and environment concerns are being mainstreamed into national, regional, and local policies, strategies, programs, and plans. Disaster hotspots are being identified to enhance the resilience of coastal and vulnerable communities.

Key to all of these challenges is the younger generation. With a population of only 2 million, The Gambia accounts for a disproportionate number of people embarking upon the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in search for a better life. By August 2017, Gambians accounted for 5.6% (or 6 294 persons) of all arrivals in Europe from the Mediterranean, according to UNHCR.

The government is now developing a migration policy, through a participatory and inclusive approach, including youth organizations. But the Gambian youth must also see a peaceful, sustainable society with opportunities for decent work, access to education and healthcare to feel like they play are a role, are excited about and confident in the country’s future.

This is the moment for Gambia to scale up and gain momentum on what has been set in motion. If wholly-owned by the people, and led by the government, the SDGs can be a vital travel companion on their journey.

Join the conversation at the UNGA Side Event on “The SDGs in Action: Country-led, Country-owned” on 21 September 2017, hosted by UNDG.  Speakers include Heads of State/Government and Ministers from the Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and Colombia as well as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the UNDG Chair. Find more information here

Support UNICEF Innovations new call for support for VR/AR

REPOST: Our friends at the UNICEF Innovation Fund have released a call for proposals. Deadline is 17 September. Brief summary below, and full posting here: http://unicefstories.org/vr/.

The Innovation Fund allows UNICEF to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives. Financial and technological support is available for companies that can show a strong founding team and a clear path to improving the lives of children.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for start-ups that are developing and piloting new open source VR/AR solutions. We are looking to make investments in 1) software for authoring or consuming these new realities, 2) platforms and ways providing wider access to that software, 3) platforms and ways providing better tools for content creation (such as a template, workflow, or format), and 4) particular applications of content.

For our next VR/AR cohort of investees we are particularly interested in the following applications of content:

  • Learning
    Teaching people to perform simple tasks, in many languages, with higher retention rates and better motivational levels (examples: how to install a water pump; how to recognize malnutrition in under 5-year-olds; how to teach seamstresses to perform simple procedures). VR/AR also presents new ways of increasing access to experiential learning, including for people with disabilities.
  • Understanding complex environments
    Accessing large amounts of data and deciphering them in a better way. Getting a simple picture from a complex collection of data points (examples: converting history of GIS data points from refugee camps into a VR environment for better planning; improving situational awareness for emergency responders).
  • New ways of storytelling
    Undiscovered ways of using VR/AR to tell a story, especially by bridging cross-cultural gaps and creating a dialogue.

Be daring: Applications to the Fund are accepted on a rolling basis. However, to be considered for the VR/AR-focused cohort, we ask you to submit your application by September 17, 11:59pm EDT.

Advocating for the SDGs through poster challenge in Saskatoon, Canada

In 2015, 11 year-old Sumaya Murabit noticed that there was very little awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals in her local community in Saskatoon, Canada which made it difficult to actually mobilize others into action.

Eager to create awareness and mobilize action Sumaya brainstormed different ideas; in the end she felt that the most cost-effective and practical awareness raising idea was a poster challenge. “With posters it is more fun. Other things like essays make it feel too much like school work and for things like making videos a lot of us don’t have cameras or computers. So the posters were easier because we could do it in art class at the schools and even at home it is not expensive and its fun. And sometimes it’s easier to express your ideas in art.”

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(c) A. Murabit – SDG Poster Challenge organizer Sumaya Murabit addressing the audience

After getting her family’s support, Sumaya approached her school teacher, principal and the Saskatoon Public School Board to tell them about the Goals and her idea for a “Poster Challenge” where students designed posters based on the goals. Sumaya also emailed the City Mayor, University Professor Keith Walker and well known radio personality David Kirton. She recruited them onto the “judging panel” and by creating more collaboration with other sectors was able to ensure greater public and media awareness. In the first year, three classes participated in the poster challenge.

Now in its second year, students from three grades in 14 schools – a total of 42 classes – in the city cake together at Roland Michener School Saskatoon where the final posters were viewed and the winner and finalists were announced.

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(c) A. Murabit – SDG Poster Challenge Finalists with judges and speakers

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark spoke to students about the importance of local leadership and taking action, Chief of Staff Michelle Beveridge spoke about women’s leadership, Saskatoon Public Schools Director Barry MacDougall spoke about how an idea – with action – can transform the world, indigenous rights activist Andrea Ledding spoke about her work advocated for murdered and missing aboriginal women and the necessity to start now (even if that means starting small). Whitney Graves from Rock 102 told everyone to just “do whatever they put their mind to (unless it’s illegal)”.

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(c) A. Murabit – Saskatoon City Mayor Charlie Clark with SDG Poster Challenge organizer Sumaya Murabit and SDG Poster Challenge four top finalists

The students each spoke about their posters, which Global Goal meant the most to them and what they felt needed to be done to actually achieve them. The winner of the poster challenge was 13 year old Jordyn Guan whose poster focused on “Quality Education”.

Jeff Shepherd, principal of Roland Michener School is incredibly excited to see the challenge continue to grow over the next 13 years, anticipating that next year at least 24 schools city wide will be involved. He encouraged all students with ideas, telling them that while it may seem small, it can impact so many and turn into something great.

All 17 finalist posters have been framed to be showcased by the Saskatoon Public School District and City of Saskatoon.

(C) A. Murabit – Quality Education by Jordyn Guan (Winning Poster)

Call for Applications: Youth for SDGs Scholarship with Peace Boat US.

Peace Boat US is an NGO working toward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, recognizing that achieving the goals requires an unprecedented mobilization of the energy and skills of young people, who play a key role in promoting and advancing the SDGs through entrepreneurship, volunteering, research, education and other endeavors.

This summer, Peace Boat US is offering a program titled “Peace Education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America.” This unique program will take place onboard the Peace Boat ship as it visits Panama, Nicaragua, and El Salvador from June 20 – July 3, 2017 as part of a global voyage.

The program includes exchanges with indigenous communities, visiting the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office, learning from youth working for the SDGs, lectures, cultural exchanges and presentations on peace and sustainability, climate change, visits to mangrove forests along the coast and joining educational activities including an exchange program at the University of Don Bosco in San Salvador.

The “Peace Education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America” is geared toward university students, and welcomes advanced high school students, graduate students, and lifelong learners, participating individually or in groups. But, Peace Boat US is also offering two full “Youth in Action for the SDGs” scholarships for the program!

The scholarship covers airfare from NYC-Panama, and El Salvador-NYC (or equivalent price); accommodation, meals, and travel onboard Peace Boat and in ports of call for the duration of the program and travel insurance and is open to candidates between the ages of 16-30. The scholarships will be awarded to one female and one male representative. Experience volunteering or working on SDG-related initiatives, and a commitment to continuing SDG-related work in the future will be one of the main considerations in awarding the scholarship.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) on April 25, 2017 For a full list of eligibility requirements as well as details on how to apply, click here.

Bridges of Understanding brings SDGs to their annual gala

Bridges of Understanding Annual Gala, 12 December: New York

Bridges of Understanding is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, nonpolitical organization established in 2007 to enhance positive relations between the United States and Arab World through one-to-one connections between thought leaders and the creation of original youth focused programs.

The Campaign has had a partnership with Bridges of Understanding since June 2016 to promote empathy and understanding around the refugee crisis, co-develop educational and new media activities and to increase awareness and action around the SDGs.

The Campaign organized a We the Peoples hub during the annual Gala. The SDGs were on display, featured as a selfie tool at the step and repeat photowall. Guests also had the opportunity to watch Clouds Over Sidra & My Mother’s Wing on virtual reality headsets. The gala honored Arianna Huffington and Chaker Ghazaal for their contribution to promoting global citizenship, connecting people, countries and cultures.

 

YouTube Change Ambassador Forum on Gender Equality

The UN SDG Action Campaign collaborated with YouTube to invite seven YouTube Creators to the UN for a full day forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, and gender equality. 

The recently appointed YouTube Change Ambassadors included seven international YouTube creators who are passionate about global issues. These included Jackie Aina (US, lilpumpkinpie05), Taty Ferreira (Brazil, AcidGirlTestosterona),  Hayla Ghazal (UAE, HaylaTV), Ingrid Nilsen (US, missglamorazzi), Louise Pentland (UK, Sprinkleofglitter), Chika Yoshida (Japan, cyoshida1231) and Yuya (Mexico, lady16makeup).

The young women received briefs from several UN agencies, including UNFPA, UNOCHA, and UN Women, plus Project Everyone. They discussed the possibilities and challenges as female YouTube creators, and also spoke about the opportunities for empowering and inspiring women around the world through YouTube. The Creators committed to integrate the advocacy language into their own content programming on an ongoing basis and to activate these topics through various angles.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a remarkable opportunity to build a more sustainable and equitable world for present and future generations. This project empowered influencers in new media with the proper knowledge and confidence to further messaging around the SDGs to their respective audiences in their own words. The aim is to convert young influencers into long term activists for the SDGs and the issues they feel most comfortable in championing.