The United Nations SDG Action Campaign is proud to be part of the growing United Nations family in Bonn, Germany.
The UN is currently represented in Bonn with about 20 organizations. UN Bonn supports targeted efforts by governments for a sustainable future in the fields of climate change, land degradation, biodiversity and ecosystem services, wildlife conservation, volunteerism, health, human security, disaster risk reduction, tourism, as well as education and training.
This not only includes the sustainable use of natural resources and their precautionary preservation for future generations, but also the global fight against poverty.
The United Nations has had offices in Bonn since 1951. In 2006, the UN Campus was officially inaugurated by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the “Langer Eugen” as the main building.
The UN presence in Bonn has grown steadily, from a handful of staff in 1996 to what has become a UN family with an international staff of almost 1,000 colleagues. Furthermore, the United Nations are represented in Germany with institutions and liaison offices in Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
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.
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.
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
High-Level events, interactive discussions, data showcases, the latest immersive experiences, UNVR screenings and specially thousands of people and over 500 organisations around the world mobilising action to #ACT4SDGs… we are looking back on a successful UN General Assembly and first Global mobilisation to celebrate the SDGs Anniversary.
At the 72 UN General Assembly the UN SDG Action Campaign provided forums to experience cutting-edge technologies and to explore new ways to scale those innovations, to transfer skills and provide the necessary tools for individuals to be able to own and take action for the SDGs from across the globe, and to celebrate the actions and innovations that are already happening. Here are some of the highlights:
Hundreds of visitors came by the SDG Interactive Exhibition, curated by the UN SDG Action Campaign, to take part in a multitude of immersive experiences and participatory activations that support the UN system in communicating and advocating for the advancement of the SDGs. The experiences provided a voice to people around the world and a peek into how the SDGs manifest in their daily lives, giving delegates at the 72nd General Assembly the chance to understand their realities at this important annual political forum.
Visitors experienced how today’s available and low cost technology can address tomorrows constraints on industry and life through today’s available, through the SIMTAINER. Light, a first-of-its-kind live-synced VR experience created by Mae allowed visitors to reveal the underlying fabric of our shared humanity and invite a posture of humility in the face of the radical collaboration required by all of us to accomplish the SDGs.
Moving from empathy to action, visitors could also discover and share citizen perceptions on the SDGs with real time SDG data visualizations, sharing their views on SDG progress through the MY World 2030 survey, and the social media commitment capsules at the #Act4SDGs corner.
On Monday 18 September, the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (UN Global Pulse) and the SDG Action Campaign convened governments, CEOs of major technology leading companies and innovators at the High-Level Event on SDG Innovation during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
This unique event exposed governments to breakthrough ideas and innovations available, and leading tech innovators to the concrete problematics and challenges of countries in advancing the Agenda 2030. H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd General Assembly opened the event. Among the group of participants were: H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia and H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of United Arab Emirates, Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce, Ashish Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Chair of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
“To achieve the SDGs, governments, NGOs and the private sector must all work together to unleash a massive wave of entrepreneurship that generates the breakthrough companies at a record pace. That is how we will create greener power, distribute more food and create hundreds thousands of new jobs for the growing middleclass” Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
This unique event exposed governments to breakthrough ideas and innovations available, and leading tech innovators to the concrete problematics and challenges of countries in advancing the Agenda 2030. Read the whole post and watch the videos
The SDG Media Zone aims to engage people all over the world in the important conversations happening during this high-level week of the UN General Assembly and to strengthen the commitment of the international community in support of the 2030 Agenda.
The Campaign programmed and participated in 2 sessions:
Moderated by Kristin Gutekunst,Executive Producer, UN SDG Action Campaign, featuring Monique Marian, BU Architect, Grimshaw Architects and Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future.
The UN SDG Action Campaign also participated in the Media for Social Impact Summit, our Global Director, Mitchell Toomey gave a keynote address regarding Action for the SDGs, and Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of the UNVR project, moderated the exciting panel: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Virtually Reporting the Realities of the SDGs. Find out more
The UN SDG Action Campaign, UN Global Pulse, and Microsoft organised the fourth annual Data Playground, an interactive event showcasing data and technological innovations for the SDGs. Innovators across the UN and private and public sector joined for an evening to discuss and explore opportunities for accelerating sustainable development solutions. Read full post
The UN SDG Action Campaign participated in the first ever Global People’s Summit for Sustainable Development to facilitate a series of activations and calls to action. 84 MILLION people were reached in 160 COUNTRIES
The ASEAN MY World survey was officially launched by the UNDP Administrator and all Foreign Ministers from the ASEAN region.
“Multi-stakeholder participation and inclusion are recognized as key drivers of success; however there is still a need to increase public awareness and ownership. The ASEAN MY World survey will increase public awareness and capture priorities and perceptions of progress on the agendas.” Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP
The ASEAN MY World survey will increase public awareness and capture priorities and perceptions of progress on the agendas, interpret peoples’ aspirations towards the ASEAN Community Vision and the SDGs at the national and regional level, and subsequently help shape policy recommendations and plans of action for ASEAN Member States to achieve the agenda/vision in a timely manner.
On 25 September, 2017 – the second anniversary of the ratification of the SDGs. The UN SDG Action Campaign, together with the World We Want 2030, local chapters of the Global Campaign Against Poverty (GCAP), and Action for Sustainable Development, joined forces to invite people around the world to take action and send a strong signal to leaders about the importance of the SDGs.
The result? Thousands of volunteers and citizens around the world, celebrities, journalists and thought leaders joined to inspire people to collectively achieve the SDGs:
500 organisations 1000 actions
116 countries and 380 cities 11,000 tweets 84 million people reached globally
In the summer of 2016, Influx Trust approached the UN SDG Action Campaign with a simple yet ambitious idea: what if we could host simultaneous hackathons around the world, bringing together the best in social enterprise to crowdsource solutions for the SDGs?
From 16-17 May, the #connect2effect project held its concluding activities, bringing together winners from Bali, Chandighar, and London with diplomats UN colleagues, innovators, and many other stakeholders at the United Nations.
“Around the world, people who experience the daily challenges that the SDGs were created to solve also hold the solutions. Initiatives like #connect2effect ignite the creative spirit and foster collaboration, serving as the spark to convert ideas into actions. We remain committed to projects which support community led action for the SDGs.” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action campaign
In March, 750 social innovators completed a 48 hour hackathon, organized simultaneously in 9 cities around the world. These winning teams were coached to hone their ideas, which were presented on a new crowdfunding site, https://crowdfunding.connect2effect.com/. This site will promote the ideas emerging from the hackathon and any other creative projects supporting the SDGs in the future.
“#Connect2Effect is testament to the power of collaboration possible between the UN and social entrepreneurs in addressing the SDGs together. We’re delighted that this joint effort by the UN SDG Action Campaign, Influx Trust have paved the way for optimising worldwide impact on the SDGs” said Max Kalis, CEO & Founder of Influx Trust.
The results this inaugural year were astounding:
9 hackathons organized simultaneously in Bali, Bahrain, Chandigarh, Geneva, Lagos, Lisbon, London, NY and Rio
750 social entrepreneurs, tech experts, UN experts and mentors participated
90 pitches, with 9 regional winners and 3 global winners
Hundreds of thousands of social media views
During their visit to New York City, the winners presented their ideas numerous times at the United Nations Headquarters. The audiences of representatives from the United Nations, including the Office President of the General Assembly, UNDP, UN Women, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, witnessed the progress made, learned about the hacking process, and discussed the details of the ideas of the winners.
Following the pitching roundtable, the winners were invited to an intimate meet and greet with H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, the President of the UN General Assembly, who received them in the General Assembly Hall itself. The President mused about the ideas, congratulating the teams on identifying some interesting local problems, and coming up with very innovative solutions.
“The world is changing rapidly. We need to keep up with this change yet conserve our cultural values by incorporating more sustainable practices.” H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly
The President was impressed by the quality of all winning projects. He identified with Niskala’s cultural waste program, having attended Balinese traditional ceremonies many times as a Fijian. He applauded Paperless’ commitment to working with those most in danger of being left behind in India through their magnetic braille tablet, and he was intrigued by eQuality’s way of empowering consumers with the knowledge to make more ethical decisions.
The meet and greet concluded with a photo opportunity on the dais of the GA, with the President surrounded by the winners and organizers.
The final pitch was given by all teams during A View From the Cloud, organized by World Council of Peoples for the United Nations and the Streaming Museum. This event united artist, scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and civil society in a series of thoughtful discussions on how art and technology can influence and change our world.
“The experience of coming to New York and sharing their initiatives with UN representatives has been invaluable to this year’s winners of Connect2Effect. It has offered opportunities to improve not just the prospects for their work but has also provided powerful inspiration for these social entrepreneurs personally,” concluded Kalis.
For more than 20 years, the United Nations has a permanent place in Germany. Through the exhibition “The United Nations in Germany: Commitment to Agenda 2030” the Federal Foreign Office welcomes the public to explore and find out about their commitment on sustainability, climate protection and refugee and migration issues. The exhibition can be visited at the Federal Foreign Office premises in Berlin until 10th May 2017.
“We take the still steadily growing presence of the world organization in the former federal capital Bonn and at six other German locations as an occasion to honor the diverse activities of the United Nations.” Dr. Cyrill Nunn from the Federal Foreign Office welcomed the audience and stressed Germany´s commitment to the United Nations and to the Agenda 2030.
UN Bonn comprises of 19 organizations and serves to help governments and people find answers and ways for humanity to achieve a sustainable future on this planet. The UN SDG Action Campaign, one of the newest members of the United Nations in Bonn, opened the exhibition.
Xavier Longan, SDG Action Campaign Europe Focal Point, expressed, “Beyond government, we need different stakeholders to be actively involved as well as youth, civil society, cities and business. Together we can achieve the SDGs by 2030! To collaborate, we need to communicate and build understanding of other perspectives, experiences and needs as a basis for working together towards shared goals.”
By using interactive elements, participants can understand what the agenda means for people around the world and which topics are most important to them. Participants also had the opportunity to take a seat at the “SDGs corner”, take pictures with those SDGs closest to their friends and family and make real commitments to take action by sending a postcard to their “Future Selfs”.
The Exhibition will be open until May 10th 2017 and is free for the public.
To know more about the UN in Bonn go to www.unbonn.org or here to know more about the exhibition.
In September 2015, 193 countries agreed to work together on a 15-year global plan to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. This plan includes 17 Goals that serve as an urgent guiding masterplan to tackle the world’s greatest challenges and ensure that no one is left behind. Innovative individuals are urgently needed to join together with countries and partners to turn the bold and ambitious global plan into action. See the 17 SDGs here.
To rapidly generate an unprecedented level of innovation and collaboration around the SDGs, the 3-day #Connect2effect Global Hackathon will bring together these innovators with different skillsets ranging from marketing to programming to designing.
The event will produce a series of basic workable prototypes that can be further expanded after the event. The best ideas will be developed and supported through local incubation programmes, mentoring on crowdfunding platform. Winners will receive an invitation to pitch their ideas at the UN Headquarters in New York at the Science, Technology & Innovation Forum taking place at the UN Headquarters in NYC 15th – 17th of May.
Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign stresses the value of #Connect2Effect for the UN: “At the UN SDG Action Campaign, we consistently strive to find ways to reach new audiences to inform and inspire them about the SDGs. We also empower individuals to work together and serve as agents of change, honouring the best solutions in a variety of methods. We are eager to empower the best creative thinkers and problems solvers to help the UN and governments achieve their goals”.
H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly, fully supports the #Connect2Effect initiative: “Each and every one of us has a critical role to play – as individuals role-modeling sustainable living, as innovators and creative thinkers conceiving new ideas, and as activists working with others to implement solutions to shape our world towards a sustainable future. I look forward to being inspired by the outcomes of the hackathon and to warmly welcome the winners to the United Nations“
The initiative is the first of an annual series which over time will create a sustained network of individuals who can mentor each other and work together to come up with the best ideas for achieving the SDGs, as Max Kallis, CEO of Influx Trust points out: “We are eager to support the UN by leveraging our network and expertise to come up with solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems.”
This year’s hackathon will bring together people in Manama, Bahrain, Lagos, Nigeria, Chandigargh, India, and Lisbon, Portugal to tackle industry innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), in London, U.K., and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to reduce inequalities (SDG 10) and in Bali, Indonesia, Geneva, Switzerland and New York City, USA to generate a shift towards more responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).
FACTS & FIGURES:
1000 Entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives working together across 9 global locations (Manama, Bali, Chandigarh, Geneva, Lagos, Lisbon, London, New York and Rio) on 5 continents.
193 United Nation Member States
17 Sustainable Development Goals to solve by 2030
72 hours for teams to collaborate and help hack three of the SDGs.
6 Headline Partners for #Connect2Effect 2017 to help our teams with the resources they need.
3 SDGs to hack during #Connect2Effect
1 Crowdfunding platform that will take an idea and put it in the market in a weekend.
ABOUT THE COLLABORATORS:
The Influx Trust is a UK charity that fosters a community of individuals and businesses eager to share their knowledge and resources to support the UN’s priorities. @InfluxTrust
The UN SDG Action Campaign is a global interagency initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, with the mission of ensuring that everyone has the support, encouragement and capability to advocate and act to ensure the SDG agenda is brought to life. It recognises and celebrates the innovators, conveners and break-through actors who are transforming lives, tackling trade-offs and generating practical solutions to some of the world’s most intractable development problems. The Campaign is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the German Federal Government. @SDGAction
The President of the General Assembly is an annually geographically rotating position voted for by representatives in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The President of the 71st and current session, H.E. Mr Peter Thomson from Fiji, presides over the General Assembly, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. Made up of all the 193 Member States of the UN, the General Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. @UN_PGA
Jayne & Misael | Kitsch.inc on behalf of Influx Trust | firstname.lastname@example.org Kristin Gutekunst | UN SDG Action Campaign | email@example.com Katharina Kandt | Office of the President of the UN General Assembly| firstname.lastname@example.org
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its economy is worsening. Malawians are struggling to earn enough money to feed their families and two years of poor harvests means that people are hungry. There’s no welfare state, so earning a living is vital for survival.
To make matters worse, Malawi also faces a serious youth unemployment crisis and the highest working poverty rate in the world. According to a report of the National Statistical Office and ILO, in 2013 only 11.3% of the working population was in formal employment, and the figures for those under 35 are worse.
A large part of the population is left to fend for themselves with over 54% being self-employed. But what are the lived realities? The Building Bridges Foundation team discovered on the road in Malawi that there is hope for the landlocked “Warm Heart of Africa”.
The Road to Nairobi 2016 bus traveled around Malawi to meet 10 youth entrepreneurs working in a range of sectors in order to learn from their challenges and to get a better understanding of their experiences as entrepreneurs in one of the world’s most disadvantaged countries.
We met youth involved in fashion, improved seeds generation, water pipe construction and much more. These entrepreneurs proved to be change makers in Malawi who are not just creating employment for themselves, but also for others despite all the challenges they face.
Extensive power cuts, little education, corruption, lack of access to funding as well as scarcity of incubators and mentorship programs all hinder growth and sustainability. In the MY World survey, young Malawians expressed that education, healthcare, better job opportunities, affordable and nutritious food and access to clean water and sanitation are their top five concerns. The Malawian youth entrepreneurs we met were not only concerned with earning their own living, but especially with changing society and Malawi’s situation.
“My vision is to give a future to those most in doubt and nurture them so that they do not merely become another statistic of African hardship and suffering,” said 15-year old Tawile. She expresses her feelings and hopes for the future through fashion and aims to unite Africa.
Other entrepreneurs are focusing on the challenges faced by Malawian girls such as child marriage, lack of education and sexual abuse. “Women are nurturing and can use that ability to take care of the economic situation in their home, community and country. They need to be empowered and inspired.”
“The future of each and every nation is in the youth and entrepreneurship is the best way to go,” said Alexious. Young Malawian entrepreneurs should be empowered and supported as they are providing solutions for the country. To ensure youth are not discouraged and continue to change their circumstances, it’s important to understand the lived experiences. The Road to Nairobi team spoke to youth entrepreneurs in Malawi and asked what changes they would like to see:
Tadala T: Provide resources, information and opportunities on a merit basis, not because of who you know or what political affiliations you have.
Dumisani: Change the mindset of young people and the syndrome of dependency.
Ahmed: There needs to a better information system accessible everywhere where people can find all information related to entrepreneurship.
Alexious: Entrepreneurship should be part of the curriculum. It should be supported so that the youth are empowered.
Author: Charles Lipenga (Youth Ambassador Road to Nairobi project). Edited by: Annemarelle van Schayik (Research Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation) & Samantha Ndiwalana (Project Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation)
On Thursday, October 20, over 600 people attended a grand exhibit aboard the Peace Boat. This “Floating Festival for Sustainability” marked the Peace Boat’s 92nd Global Voyage for Peace since the nonprofit was established in 1983, and the first time the ship has docked in New York in five years. It also marked the inauguration of the Global Goals logo on the boat.
The SDG Action Campaign has a long history of working with the Peace Boat, having launched a partnership in 2009 to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Peace Boat previously hosted the Millennium Campaign logo, gave courses on the MDGs to passengers, and participated in the Stand Up Campaign among other activities. The Peace Boat has also been an early adopter of the MY World 2030 survey, helping to translate the ballot into Japanese, and collecting ballots both from passengers and people they meet during their journey. They presented the results of their first efforts in their recent report about the ship’s visit to Latin America – showing the enormous efforts and impact the boat is able to make on supporting the implementation of the SDGs.
The event occurred aboard the Peace Boat, providing guests with an intimate glimpse of life at sea. When guests first arrived, they were greeted with a tour of Peace Boat’s impressive ship. The foyer of the ship allowed guests to engage with the mission of the Peace Boat and with an exhibition of projects the peace boat is aligned with. Peace Boat, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, campaigns for the Sustainable Development Goals as it tours the globe each year. The UN SDG Action Campaign was present to drum up excitement about the SDGs and give participants the ability to engage with immersive content. Participants could take the MY World survey to voice their opinion on the importance and progress of the SDGs, take selfies highlighting their favorite SDGs and watch the virtual reality films of stories from around the world.
The World We Want team was also present, inviting guests to learn about their activities and to join the Policy Strategy Group. The World We Want is looking to continue doing WWW exhibitions around the world to promote the SDGs and civil society’s participation in UN activities. Other exhibits included the presentation of the Eco Ship, an entirely sustainable ship fueled by renewable energy sources that will retrieve the mission of the Peace Boat and promote climate action world-wide when in launches in 2020.
The main event of the evening began with live music and dance, followed by a series of speakers including H.E. Jan Eliasson (United Nations Deputy Secretary-General), H.E. Ahmed Sareer (Ambassador of the Maldives and Chairman of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS)), Jeff Brez (Chief NGO Relations Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information), Yoshioka Tatsuya (Peace Boat Director) and Cora Weiss of the (President, Hague Appeal for Peace). The presentations were followed by an eco fashion show highlighting sustainable designs, and the SDGs chosen to be of highest import to each of the designers.
The presenters made appealing calls to action for all guests to get involved with the SDGs and in promoting peace. The Mr. Eliasson stressed the need to join forces and approach the SDGs in a collaborative manner, encouraging everyone to not be phased by the large task at hand, but rather to focus on small actions that add up: “nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something”. He stressed the need to empower and create space for youth and women as major actors in the fight for peace.
Mr. Tatsuya gave an energetic presentation about the new ship the Peace Boat is developing, which will soon be the most sustainable ship to ever set sail. It will include an on-board university for peace & sustainability, sport activities, and volunteer exchanges in local communities visited.
The evening also included a passionate appeal from a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing as part of a special partnership with the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security (UNODA). Five victims of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, known as Hibakusha, are traveling with the Peace Boat to campaign against nuclear weapons, hoping to see a world without them in their lifetimes.
Thought leaders from around the world had the opportunity to immerse themselves virtually in the stunningly heartbreaking world of a Syrian refugee child named Sidra via Clouds Over Sidra. This set the stage to understanding what life is like in a Syrian refugee camp, adding depth and intimacy to an issue that many see only on the news. Those who saw the film came away excited by the promises of VR, seeing the film and technology as an opportunity to effectively teach today’s digital natives about topics from the refugee crisis to the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Watching Clouds over Sidra in VR was an incredibly impactful experience,” said Connor Seidenschwarz of the Qatar Foundation International. “Last summer I worked in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the VR experience made me feel like I was right back there again. I think this type of medium, along with the Shared_Studios portal and Level Up Village programs, will have a huge impact on anyone learning about refugee experience, especially in terms of what it can do to create humanize refugees.”
“I’ve worked in many countries, including in the developing world. Yet this film drove home what life is really like for refugee children and made me see the differences and similarities between children here and there in a different light,” David Ross, Chief Strategy Officer at P21 said of the experience.
“Global education is the lens through which all teaching and learning should occur. Virtual exchanges, collaborative projects, and immersive VR experiences like Clouds over Sidra are critical elements for delivering quality education to all,” said David Young CEO of VIF, an organization that works districts and schools to develop global-ready teachers and students.
After watching the film, participants walked into a gold colored, sparkling Shared_Studios Portal tent where they connected in real time through full-body video conference with groups in Iraq, Pakistan and Nicaragua. These live interactions pulled the world of each of these groups even closer, breaking down the wall of self consciousness that we often see via modes like Skype. Through this opportunity, educators explored how students might be able to play and engage meaningfully with peers from around the world.
Boys who fled the ISIS takeover of Mosul two years ago and are living in Harsham Camp for internally displaced Iraqis in the city of Erbil spoke directly to conference participants via the Erbil Portal, curated by UNICEF Iraq. Amidst more serious conversations, one US educator spontaneously played a game of rock, paper, scissors with the children who taught her the Arabic words for the game. The young Iraqi boys then taught a group of three women in the US a local dance.
Lindsay Mackenzie, communications specialist with UNICEF Iraq, explained that connecting with people around the world serves to build perspective and open the world for children in the camp, while giving voice to those who do not feel heard. Moreover, these opportunities represent hope and a moment of respite from otherwise harrowing situations.
“It was thrilling to stand right in front of my counterparts at the GEF 2016 and talk. We have the same hopes and aspirations – to have our students grow and thrive in a peaceful world,” said Farah Kamal, Executive Director of iEarn Pakistan.
Global Ed Forum participants interacted in real time with Level Up Village global partners NicaPhoto Nicaragua and iEARN Pakistan
At NicaPhoto in Nicaragua, Ronnie Maher has provided quality education, nutrition and other social services to hundreds of students who live in homes that were only recently wired for electricity. Via Level Up Village programs, students in each location have engaged in one-to-one STEAM (STEM + arts) collaborations with students at schools in the US.
“The impact of Level Up Village programs on our kids is great, beginning with learning to use a computer, learning to form their own ideas, and to ask questions,” said Ronnie Maher, Founder & Executive Director of NicaPhoto. “The video letters and one-to-one connections help them to be less shy as they learn to express themselves. The project-based, small class environment is a unique opportunity that can have a big impact on learning here in Nicaragua.”
At the conference, we also demonstrated how Level Up Village’s social media-inspired platform facilitates the exchange of asynchronous video letters and project collaboration across the globe. In our courses, students in the US are paired one-on-one with partner students from around the world to learn cutting-edge STEAM skills and apply them to real-world problems, In addition, they collaborate on shared project files and exchange information about about each other’s daily lives and cultures through a guided exchange of video letters. The result is meaningful global collaboration and an enhanced understanding of the world – at a personal level.
Students in 20+ countries connect and collaborate using Level Up Village’s mobile-friendly Global Communications Platform in courses such as Global Inventors(3D printing). This type of innovative global STEAM collaboration with real-world applications teaches important 21st Century skills and creates meaningful personal connections
Participants at the Global Ed Forum experienced firsthand how a variety of exciting new technologies are proving to be game-changers in the field of global education. We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with VIF, P21, The Qatar Foundation International, Shared_Studios and the UN SDG Action Campaign to move global education forward. In the next few years, we expect many more schools in the US and around the world will access the tools they need to bring the world into their classroom and the impact will be profound. Students will be able to develop social awareness, empathy and global competency in unprecedented ways, providing them with the framework they need to become compassionate leaders of tomorrow.
** Special thanks to GEF 2016 organizer Brandon Wiley & Dave Potter of VIF for making this experience possible.
About Level Up Village: A social enterprise based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Level Up Village (LUV) delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + Arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between K-9 students in the U.S. and partner students in developing countries. Launched in 2012, LUV runs courses during school, after-school and in the summer at more than 150 U.S. schools, with 30+ Global Partner organizations in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit atlevelupvillage.com or find us onFacebook,Instagram,LinkedInandTwitter @LevelUpVillage.
The 71st regular session of the United Nations General Assembly met this past September, which also coincided with the High Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. In an effort to raise the voices are those most in danger of being left behind, the UN SDG Action Campaign brought two immersive technology experiences to the UN Secretariat Building, highlighting some of the most complex global challenges the UN faces. The particular focus on refugees, displaced people, and migrants allowed diplomats direct access and a deeper understanding of their everyday realities.
Above: Haider al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq speaking to Waleed, a young boy displaced from Mosul by violence now living in the Harsham IDP Camp. Below: Ewan MacGregor, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF poses with Mirna, young girl he met on his last visit to the Camp in Erbil.
The United Nations Virtual Reality film series and Portals immersive experiences enables people to access locations and situations they would otherwise never experience, providing context for some of the most complex issues the UN is striving to mitigate. By doing so, the Campaign hopes it will help transform understanding of critical global issues that must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals into a medium that is instantly empathetic and universally relatable.
Throughout the course of the week, Delegates were able to watch several films on the newly launched UNVR app (available at www.UNVR.org) about the everyday realities of refugees. Filmed in the Zaatari Camp in Jordan, Clouds Over Sidra recounts the new normal for a young girl from Syria, and Born Into Exile by UNFPA highlights the importance of providing safe births for mothers, revealing the amazing statistic that zero mothers have been lost at the camp. Beyond the Lake recounts the harrowing experience of a woman escaping violence in Burundi who is able to start a new life in the DRC through the support of UN Women safe spaces. UNOCHA also previewed Home, a new film documenting the UN Secretary-General’s humanitarian tour, highlighting the plight of refugees living in Lebanon, Syria and the DRC.
Delegates further had the opportunity to have full-body conversations with individuals living these realities, in real time, through the UN Portal, curated by the Campaign, Shared_Studios, and Bridges of Understanding. It is part of an international project with countless locations around the world by Shared_Studios. The UN Portal connected to the Harsham IDP Camp in Erbil, curated by UNICEF Iraq, allowing delegates to speak to young Iraqis displaced by fighting in Mosul. It also connected to a refugee resettlement home outside of Berlin, where delegates could speak to people from Chad, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria in varying stages of asylum seeking, and to young people at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan with Turquoise Mountain Institute. In the afternoons, the UN Portal connected to Mexico City with an NGO called Proyecto Habesha that is supporting Syrian refugees in coordinates higher education degrees in Mexico.
This exhibition was made possible through the political support of the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Germany, the Government of Iraq, and the UN Department of Information.
The Campaign also shared the space with UNICEF’s Time Machine, an installation that translating childhood memories from data into unique sound – giving visitors and delegates attending the UNGA an opportunity to understand the data on children currently available and areas that fall short.