This year we are not only celebrating 50 years of Germany’s accession to the United Nations. 2023 also marks the halfway point in achieving the SDGs that will be underscored by the SDG Summit taking place at the UN in September. For years, the UN SDG Action Campaign -Special Initiative of the UN Secretary Generale housed in the Executive Office of UNDP and with Headquarters in Bonn) has made it its mission to inspire action and mobilization for the SDGs across geographies, generations, and sectors.
Last year, the SDG Action Campaign and its partners mobilized 142 million people across the globe under the banner Flip the Script. This year, she has prepared a brand-new campaign to increase engagement and momentum towards the Summit and beyond. Please welcome the Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, Marina Ponti.
Marina Ponti: Thank you very much for your warm welcome.
Question 1: From an SDG Campaign point of view, how do you see Germany’s role in multilateralism?
For multilateralism to work, it must work first and foremost work for “we the peoples”, in all our diversity. We must be the agents of it, too, through more networked, distributed decision-making to deal with today’s challenges as well as new threats in the future.
First, we need champions who are ready to stand up for multilateralism. Germany has been a major advocate for multilateralism and the issues and values we share. Let me add that I had the privilege of attending the President’s beginning of the year celebration here in Berlin and I was moved –as were the other Ambassadors and representatives from international organizations- by the President’s bold messages in support of peace and on human rights –two concepts that need advocacy and champions now more than ever.
Second, we need partnerships. And in this respect Germany is one of the main donors who is taking the trajectory towards the 0,7% very seriously which is helping tremendously to keep this important debate alive. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Germany joining the United Nations, I would like to echo the Administrator and extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude to Germany who has been a reliable development partner and critical pillar in multilateral system. The UN SDG Action Campaign is housed at the UN Campus in Bonn, the UN sustainability hub. We really appreciate the support of the German government that allows to inspire a movement of actions across the world.
Last, we need vision: on this I want to congratulate Germany on your role as the co-facilitator of the Summit of Future along with Namibia. We see the Summit of the Future as an important platform to keep and continue to grow the momentum that will be generated by the SDG Summit in September.
Question 2: On the mid-way to 2030, the world is on the brink of a poly-crisis with ongoing grand challenges, as well as major disasters and health emergencies. How do you maintain your sense of hope and motivation?
The effort ahead of us to ensure a just and green transition may seem daunting. But there is nothing human creativity cannot achieve when we unite, with a clear vision and a sense of urgency. When you feel discouraged think of how the world came together and in 1 year produced a vaccine against COVID something that was estimated to take 10 or more years.
At the UN SDG Action we believe that what we can imagine we can achieve.
Last year 142 million people mobilized across the globe with the flip the script campaign, which was about changing the narrative from a negative message to a message of hope and possibilities.
This message of hope is a core message of our Campaign, which is also driving some of our activities such as the SDG Action Awards where we look for individuals and initiative that are making a difference bringing about positive change at the local or national level. We just closed on Sunday the call for applications: we were overwhelmed by almost 5000 applications from 160 countries. Inspiring people and impactful initiatives are happening everyday. And it is important to pause and celebrate those.
Question 3: You are just about to share a teaser of the new SDG Campaign. Can you briefly tell us about the new campaign and about its concept?
The new campaign which you will see now soon is centered on the concept of UNITED for Change.
And the creative concept at its core is of lines, the lines of life.
The lines of life are everywhere – in the parched soil cracked with climate change; in a face weathered by time; in the barriers and walls that divide us; in the contours of an agricultural field that feeds us.
However, for as many lines that tell a negative story about humanity and our challenges, there are countless more positive ones that connect us and drive us towards a sustainable future. These are the lines of connection, of togetherness, and of community. And they are the lines that unite us for change.
United does not mean everyone doing the same thing or thinking the same way. It means people coming together, in all our diversity, to achieve goals that both inspire us and benefit us all.
For so long, we have been used to thinking in divisions. We draw lines, segregating countries, peoples, issues.
The power of the SDGs is that they call on us to transform the lines into a ribbon that connects us.
Unity is at the heart of the goals because achieving any single one requires achieving them all. And this is only possible when people themselves are united for change.
Because we are stronger together.
These are the key messages of the new SDG Campaign that we are developing with the support of BMZ (many friends are here tonight), UNDP and other key partners, let me just mention CAPGEMINI our creative and digital agency also present today).