Does your neighbour know about the Sustainable Development Goals?

By Felix Zimmermann, Coordinator at OECD Development Communication Network. Originally published at OECD

Words OECD governments use
to describe the SDGs online.
Source: OECD DevCom 2017

I don’t really know my neighbour. What I do know is that she can get pretty grumpy when my kids are too noisy. I also know that she uses the recycle bins. But what does she think about sustainable development? I wouldn’t have a clue. That needs to change.

An urgent task: mobilising citizens into action for the SDGs

To have any hope of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, we need all citizens to change their behaviours, no matter where in the world they live. SDG priorities may differ from country to country, but we need citizens in all countries to call upon governments, companies – and neighbours – to act.

The good news is that the SDGs give us a powerful story to tell – just check out the inspirational word cloud we created using only language from the SDG web pages of OECD governments.

The even better news is that people are beginning to engage. One year into the “SDG era”, about 3 in 10 citizens say they’ve heard about the SDGs, according to both Globescan and Eurobarometer. Almost 10 million world citizens have shown they care about sustainable development by participating in the UN MyWorld survey. These numbers will rise further thanks to the work of initiatives like the UN SDG Action Campaign, Project Everyone and the World’s Best News.

Will new SDG narratives and campaigns convince my neighbour to shop differently or support global efforts to end hunger? They should!

But these are tough times for SDG communicators in public institutions. Their audiences include many people who have lost trust in public institutions and become resentful about international co-operation. In a changing media landscape, they have to compete for attention with “fake news” and “clickbait”. And, with social-media algorithms deciding what people read and dividing readers into different bubbles, communicators may just be preaching to their own audiences.

Good listeners make great SDG communicators

To overcome these challenges, the first thing government institutions need to do is improve their listening skills.

Take the opinion polls that some institutions commission on a regular basis. These surveys should tell communicators what citizens really think, particularly when coupled with other kinds of public attitudes research, such as focus groups.

The problem is that polls are designed not only to provide accurate information on public attitudes. They are also designed as advocacy tools, for example to strengthen the case for specific policies.1  With budgets being squeezed, public institutions have strong incentives to make public support for their work look higher than it really is.

Yet, polls are not the only way to understand public attitudes today. Businesses mine online data to find and target new customers. Political parties have done the same in their quest for votes. The development community has begun to embrace the data revolution, but the digital transformation has not yet reached all of its communications departments.

Facebook and Twitter have become daily business for institutions that deliver development assistance, according to a recent survey conducted by the OECD Development Communication Network (DevCom).2  However, when DevCom members were asked why they use social media, interacting with citizens and seeking feedback on policies ranked amongst their lowest priorities (see figure below). Amongst 13 respondents, only six had specific budgets for social media, and only two were confident in their abilities to make use of web analytics.

The bottom line is that if they want to mobilise citizens for the SDGs, then communicators need better listening architectures. They need to invest in opinion polls and public attitudes research that provide reliable information. They need to consider how social media and web analytics can and should inform their public engagement strategies.

Applying the right SDG narratives for different audiences

It is only by listening more carefully – setting up stronger listening architectures – that SDG communicators will know what SDG messages work best for different audiences.

For example, many people will want to be reassured that their taxes are being spent wisely and achieving SDG results. Some will want to be moved by stories that evoke shared values – they may want practical suggestions on how to become global citizens.3  Others will want to take pride in their country’s performance or global leadership on the SDGs. Others still will need reminding that the SDGs are in everyone’s interest, including their own.

Listening better will also help choose the right SDG messengers. Consider who represents the development community in the media today: political leaders, policy experts and celebrity ambassadors. But where some audiences see trusted figureheads, others only see big words, big numbers and big egos.

Most audiences today also want to hear from “real” people: People who share their interests, such as business leaders, fellow hikers or young bloggers; people actually delivering on the SDGs, such as doctors, teachers or engineers; people in their entourages; peers; parents.

Open government: building trust and seeking genuine dialogue with citizens

Of course, clever and targeted messaging alone won’t convince everyone to join the global SDG effort. To have any chance of reaching the sceptics, government institutions will need a deeper change, linking words to actions. They will need to become more open, building trust, pursuing an honest dialogue and finding new ways to collaborate with citizens, both offline and online.

Leading the way, Indonesia, Georgia, Peru, Tanzania and dozens more countries have joined the Open Government Partnership. Governments in Mexico, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands have launched ambitious platforms for citizens to share ideas and make personal commitments to sustainable development. Austria’s Mitmachen portal invites individuals, schools and small businesses to sign up and shows them how they can participate in both local and global efforts. Last year, Canada and the European Commission conducted major public consultations to help design new development policies.

And there are more reasons for optimism: in the first set of SDG progress reports to the UN High Level Political Forum, most governments provide examples of how they are listening to and engaging with citizens, NGOs, businesses and local communities.

These experiences need to be shared. That’s why, together with its members and UN partners, DevCom is setting up a Peer Learning Hub for SDG Communicators. Please contact us with your guidance, ideas and examples.

And: go and talk to your neighbour about the SDGs. As an SDG communicator, I should have done so a long time ago. She may have some great ideas on how we can engage the whole neighbourhood!

1. For a discussion on development polls, see Good Practices in Development Communication, OECD Development Centre, 2014.

2. OECD DevCom is a platform where communications managers from development institutions explore ways to engage with citizens for sustainable development.

3. A survey of young people by the Varkey Foundation shows that young people want to make a wider contribution to society, but need more knowledge and skills to make a difference.


How can new technologies ensure we leave no one behind

Professionals developing world class innovation discuss the real potential of virtual reality and new media and the challenges that lay ahead:  How do we make sure it brings a positive impact to global issues.? How can we bring it to everyone and really use it to help the people who need it the most?



Friedrich Kurz, General Manager Social Innovation, Deutsche Telekom, Marisol Grandon, CEO of Untold Stories, Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of UNVR, UN SDG Action Campaign, Wilfried Runde, Head of Innovation Projects at Deutsche Welle join the discussion at the SDG Live Stage of the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development.

To convey the stories of the most vulnerable people in the world and bring them home to the decision makers and global citizens around the world, pushing the bounds of empathy, the UN SDG Action Campaign has coordinated the United Nations Virtual Reality Series since 2015.

This discussion happened during the first Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development. Watch more:


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.

The SDGs at the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament

Photo: Members of the Knesset, Israel

Source and photo credits: The Knesset

To mark this year’s Knesset Day to Eradicate Poverty, the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – featured the first Hebrew translated UN Exhibition on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Knesset is the heart of Israeli democracy. Every day, hundreds of people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds visit the Knesset –a building open to the public– to see and even participate in committee sessions and various events. It was therefore natural for the Knesset to take a leading role in raising awareness on the SDGs to both parliamentarians and the Israeli population.

With encouragement from Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Yoel Edelstein and Director General Albert Sakharovich, the Knesset Foreign Affairs Department works throughout the year with international organizations and parliaments worldwide to exchange views on SDGs and learn from one another, with the goal of eventually realizing Agenda 2030.

SDG exhibit in Hebrew at the Knesset

The Knesset marks various special days throughout the year: LGBT rights day, International Women’s Day, World Food Day, and many more. Although all are related to SDGs, to date, the events have used different terminology. So, to mark this year’s Knesset Day to Eradicate Poverty – which is the number 1 SDG –, the Chair of the Knesset Labour, Welfare and Health Committee, MK Elie Elalouf, was happy to join forces with the Knesset Foreign Affairs Department to introduce the Sustainable Development Goals, through an exhibition designed by the UN SDGs action campaign.

The exhibition was displayed at the Knesset on Tuesday, 21 February. In addition to a prominent display of the SDG logos and selected panels (both translated into Hebrew), SDGs video clips were shown on two screens, and brochures in both of Israel’s official languages (Hebrew and Arabic) were distributed to participants. Coalition and opposition Knesset Members from various parties across the political spectrum joined hands and provided an example to the public by raising awareness of the SDGs, in particular SDG1.

MK Elalouf said, “After heading the Committee to Fight Poverty, my foremost goal at the Knesset was to work tirelessly to end poverty in Israel. To my satisfaction, I was appointed Chair of the Labour, Welfare and Health Committee, which allows me to put the issue of ending poverty at the center of the parliamentary debate and activity. However, Israel does not stand alone in its efforts to end all forms of poverty; this is a global phenomenon, and it is being addressed worldwide. Therefore, when the Knesset held its Day to Eradicate Poverty, it was important for me to highlight international activity on the matter, our part in the global efforts, and the need to exchange perspectives and ideas. We have done that this year by showcasing the UN’s exhibition on the SDGs, which was viewed by hundreds of people who attended today’s event.”

The Knesset plans to continue its efforts to raise awareness of the SDGs, and more activities are expected in the coming months and years. We believe that, by working together, parliaments of the world can realize the vision of Agenda 2030.

Left to right => MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint List), MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu), MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), MK Akram Hasoon (Kulanu)
Members of the Knesset

Thanks for being part of history at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development

Photo: Some of the Festival team members with volunteers at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development. photothek/Inga Kjer

We would like to thank everyone, especially the partner organizations, inspiring speakers and colleagues for being part of history at the first ever Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development on 1-3 March 2017 at the World Conference Center Bonn!

The Festival was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Hosts: UN SDG Action Campaign & Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Organizing partners: City of Bonn, Cepei, Data-Pop Alliance, Engagement Global, Plan International, Salzburg Global Seminar, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Resources Institute (WRI)

Supporting partners: Deutsche Welle, DW Global Media Forum, European Union, SDSN

Plenary Speakers:

  • Mitchell Toomey, Global Director, UN SDG Action Campaign
  • Ishbel Matheson, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, ODI
  • Ashok Sridharan, Lord Mayor, City of Bonn
  • Dr. Alaa Murabit, SDG Global Advocate and UN High Level Commissioner
  • Dr. Ingolf Dietrich, Commissioner for Agenda 2030, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Sarah Poole, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International
  • Paul Okumu, Head of Secretariat, Africa Platform
  • Kumi Naidoo, Launch Director, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity
  • Claire Melamed, Executive Director, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
  • Casper Sitemba, Executive Office of the Deputy President, Kenya
  • Philipp Schönrock, Director, CEPEI
  • Soumya Chattopadhyay, Senior Research Fellow, Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme, ODI
  • Meng Zhaoli, Chief Economist, Tencent Institute
  • Jakob Trollbäck, Founder, The New Division by Trollbäck+Company
  • Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, UN
  • Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo, International Affairs Consultant and MY World Partner in Mexico
  • Dr. Tauni Lanier, Executive Director, Impact 2030
  • Natalie Robi Tingo, Accountability Advocate, Restless Development
  • Emi Mahmoud, World Poetry Slam Champion
  • Edda Hamar, UN SDG Young Leader and Founder/ Director Undress Runways
  • Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director, African Monitor
  • Pedro Conceição, Director of Strategic Policy, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • Beckie Malay, Vice President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement

Honorable Members of the German Parliament: Dr. Claudia Lücking-Michel, Mr. Ulrich Kelber

Nadira Hira for being a fantastic MC

DW Global Media Forum for hosting 7 minutes for discussion on the Live Stage

UNFCCC for supporting communications outreach, supporting the Festival comms team on-site and event security

The UN Bonn Common Information Unit and UNRIC for supporting the press conference and media outreach

The News and Media Division and UN TV from the UN Department of Public Information for coverage and the livestream

Deutsche Post DHL Group for providing the SDG postcards, mailbox and stamps

Amazing Youth Leaders for hosting the cross-generational dialogues on the Live Stage

  • Abinav Batachan, UNDP Panda Champion
  • Usman Khan, UNDP Panda Champion Bringing Education to Youth and Learning Initiatives (BEYLI) Organization Pakistan
  • Jilt van Schayik, Director Building Bridges Foundation
  • Edda Hamar, Youth Leader, Founder and Director of Undress Runway
  • Chernor Bah, Education Advocate, Girl Champion & International Development Professional
  • Frances Simpson-Allen, Programme Management Officer, Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth at United Nations
  • Rosario del Pilar Diaz Garavito, Founder The Millennials Movement
  • Alex Wang, Secretary General of Youthink Center
  • Cunsong Xia, Youth4SDG
  • Michelle Xinyang Mei, Youthink Center
  • Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo, International Affairs Consultant and MY World Partner in Mexico
  • Natalie Robi Tingo, Accountability Advocate, Restless Development

The amazing Festival volunteers

All the participants who made the Festival an enriching experience, we hope to see you next year!
See Festival photos

Day two at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development at the World Conference Center (WCC) in Bonn, March 02, 2017. © photothek/Inga Kjer.

Sustainable Solutions: Global activists, business leaders and experts join the world’s first playable conference on sustainable development in Bonn

Photo: Over 500 delegates at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development form the SDG wheel at the World Conference Center (WCC) in Bonn, March 01, 2017. phototek / Ina Fassbender

Bonn, 1 March 2017 I Leading thinkers, policy-makers, business leaders and civil society activists gather in Germany for the first ever Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development, to chart new thinking and action on the world’s biggest development challenges at the World Conference Center in Bonn.

The Festival brings together more than 1,000 experts and activists from over 80 countries to join game designers and policy simulators for the world’s first playable conference on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Festival showcases the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG implementation, while building synergies, increasing mutual understanding, developing solutions and mobilising partnerships and resources to drive action for sustainable development.

Speakers include Alaa Murabit, leading international advocate for inclusive peace processes and UN SDG Advocate, Sarah Poole, Deputy Assistant Administrator, UNDP, Meng Zhaoli, Chief Economist at Tencent, one of the world’s biggest internet companies, David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations and Kumi Naidoo, Launch Director, Africans Rising For Justice, Peace and Dignity.

The Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development is hosted by the UN SDG Action Campaign and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and in partnership with an exciting alliance of international organisations. These include the City of Bonn, Cepei, Data-Pop Alliance, Engagement Global, Plan International, Salzburg Global Seminar, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), with other supporting partners.

The first day of the Festival featured the launch of the UN SDG Action Campaign and the opening of the Global Campaign Center. This year’s Festival is the inaugural event of an annual series hosted by the UN SDG Action Campaign in Bonn and is designed to meet the needs of the global community of SDG actors and advocates and ensure they have the innovative tools and approaches to accomplish their mission.

Inequality, globalisation, resource efficiency, advancing a green economy and sustaining progress in the face of disruptors to development are some of the key challenges the Festival will tackle. Virtual and augmented reality areas will immerse delegates in alternate life experiences from around the world, while a real-time policy simulation will lie at the heart of the Festival, exploring how we can collaborate to reach the Global Goals.

“We are here to connect the private sector, governments and civil society to provide them with the latest innovations and approaches to realize the SDGs. We have to make sure they can bring real solutions to their regions and inspire billions of people everywhere to work together to take action for sustainable development” said Mitchell Toomey, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

 The inaugural Festival will chart new thinking on the world’s biggest development challenges and mobilise key partnerships and resources to drive action now and in the future” said Alex Thier, Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

“I am pleased to open the first Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development in Bonn. This Festival, supported by the German government, has brought together people from all over the world to advance the 2030 Agenda. The UN SDG Action Campaign, and its Global Campaign Center in Bonn, is a testament to the universal nature of the SDGs that will be a core theme at this year’s Festival and those to come. The aim of the 2030 Agenda is to bring about fundamental lifestyle changes in all spheres of society, to help to protect and sustain life and the climate on our planet” said Ingolf Dietrich, Commissioner for Agenda 2030, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

“Bonn is very proud to host the global campaign on the SDGs. This festival is a signal to individuals, communities, cities, organisations, businesses and other stakeholders of all kinds to be bold in their vision and to bring ideas together in a culture of cooperation. Bonn is a great place to do so, and we do our utmost to give this a boost by offering a local platform within the programme” stated Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan, who is also First Vice President of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability.

View photographs

Information and interviews

Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development
Connect with us: #GFI4SD / Facebook @GlobalFestIdeas  / Twitter @GlobalFestIdeas

Notes to editors:

  • In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
  • The Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development is the inaugural event of an annual series of global gatherings, hosted by the UN SDG Action Campaign.
  • The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General administered by the UN Development Programme and mandated to support the UN system-wide and the Member States on advocacy and public engagement in SDG implementation.
  • The Global Campaign Center, recently inaugurated in Bonn with the support of the Federal Government of Germany, is a strategic hub for the UN SDG Action Campaign, key to the UN’s strategy of providing cutting-edge advocacy support, creative campaigns and big data expertise and analytics to Member States and partners across the globe.
  • The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues.
  • The 2017 Festival is organised by a coalition of partners including the UN SDG Action Campaign, ODI, the City of Bonn, Cepei, Data-Pop Alliance, Engagement Global, Plan International, Salzburg Global Seminar, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), with other supporting partners.

WANTED: 1000 Hackers to Help Change the World in 3 Days

Apply until 3 March 2017 to become a Sustainable Development Goal Entrepreneur!

Website:        Facebook, Twitter & Instagram:  @InfluxTrust.

From 10 to 12 March 2017, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Action Campaign, the Office of the President of the United Nations General Assembly and Influx Trust are teaming up to turn 1000 people in 9 cities around the world into SDG Entrepreneurs during the inaugural #Connect2Effect event, a 3-day global hackathon around the SDGs. Winners of the hackathon will be invited to present their work at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, NY USA.

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).


  • 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.


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

sdg action campaign final.png

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 | on behalf of Influx Trust |
Kristin Gutekunst | UN SDG Action Campaign |
Katharina Kandt | Office of the President of the UN General Assembly|

UNDP SDG Champions Ready to Roll Out MY World & Humans of MY World at the Country Level

IMG_9802.JPGWho would have thought that two little pandas named Qiqi and Dian Dian would be able to bring advocates from around the world, young and old, from different backgrounds, together in Chengdu, China for the Sustainable Development Goals? After a global search for the most interesting video submissions by regular people on why they think the SDGs are important, 17 outstanding SDG Champions were selected from Nigeria, Algeria, Jordan, Pakistan, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the Russian Federation, the U.K., France, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. The 17 SDG Champions traveled on January 9 2017 to Chengdu, China, the home of China’s Big Pandas, to learn about wildlife protection and the SDGs.


The SDG Action Campaign was able to hold an interactive session to train the SDG Champions on MY World 2030 and Humans of MY World. The Campaign prepared SDG Toolkits, Humans of MY World toolkits to share with the SDG Champions, and they were each given a MY World 8 Million Report for additional information and as a gift from the Campaign. The newly published Building Bridges Humans of MY World book was also shared with the SDG Champions.

IMG_9785.JPGDuring the session, SDG Action Campaign representative gave each SDG Champion the opportunity to take a MY World 2030 survey. The Champions asked many questions on how to roll out the survey when they return to their country, and the SDG Action Campaign will be working with UN Country Teams in addition to the organizers, UNDP China and UNDP BERA, to ensure that the SDG Champions receive the support they need at the country-level.

IMG_9794.JPGWhen the SDG Champions learned more about the Humans of MY World, enthusiasm reached a new height. After learning about the SDGs for the past few days, each champion wanted to take something concrete away so that they can immediately influence their local communities, inspiring action for the SDGs. Many of the Champions saw MY World 2030 and especially Humans of MY World as natural avenues for advocacy. During a discussion on which SDGs are of immediate concern and why, Salma Nashef from Jordan highlighted the inter-connectivity of all the SDGs and shared that for her, the key SDG is Quality Education, as education is the foundation for changing people’s perceptions and advancing development. Nancy from the U.S., a social worker and educator, passionately told the story from her personal experience as a social worker, working with victims of sexual harassment. She pointed out Gender Equality and Peace, Justice and Security are extremely important for marginalized communities and victims.

IMG_9780.JPGDjamel M’Rah from Algeria expressed his readiness to take action in Algeria, and this notion was strongly shared by many of the SDG Champions. Even after a long day of events, the passion of the SDG Champions to make real changes back home was felt strongly as the discussion continued well into the evening. The SDG Action Campaign is excited to begin working with the 17 SDG Champions and to leverage existing networks to make sure they receive the necessary support to turn passion for the SDGs into advocacy action.

IMG_9774.JPGThe session was also filmed in virtual reality, more to follow on the launch of the SDG Champion Panda Film that features MY World 2030 and Humans of MY World!

During COP 22 – Youth for the SDGs in Marrakech

Translating the SDGs

The UN Youth Booth was among the exhibits located at the COP22 Blue Zone, where various event booths were being showcased for visiting participants during this year’s conference in Marrakech. The UN Youth Booth, by working with the SDG Action Campaign, showcased some of the various initiatives made to translate the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into local languages. Members from CSAYN Ethiopia and CSAYN Cameroon showcased various local youth-led initiatives of afforestation programs to raise awareness for the power of youth mobilization. The groups also explained the UN virtual reality programme, which helped to break the language barrier; this breakdown has proven to be an imperative objective for creating inclusive participation of local peoples, such as farmers and marginalized communities with less access to education.  This is an effort to leave no one behind in this global effort.

Reactions varied from emotional to excitement from people who watched the virtual reality films, but everyone thought the technology was a wonderful way to engage people from around the world in ongoing humanitarian issues, especially in places they would otherwise never experience.  Delegates who tried the virtual reality were extremely impressed with the innovations presented, and many said it’s the first time they had seen VR apart from online demonstrations.

Various surveys to gain insight of conference participants’ knowledge of and perspective on the SDGs were conducted at the UN Youth Booth. Youth delegates who took the “MY World 2030” survey gave their feedback as to what they think is the most crucial SDG. The survey went on successfully, and most delegates identified the following six goals as their top priorities:

  • SDG 13 :Climate Action
  • SDG 6: Clean Water
  • SDG 5:Gender Equality
  • SDG 3: Quality Education
  • SDG 4:Good Health and well-being


In Conversation with Mr. Ntiokam Divine from Cameron, on David Nabarro, the UN Special Advisor on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

It was a privilege speaking to Mr. Nabarro and he was so excited and proud to have  advocates pushing the 2030 Agenda for SD at all local, national and regional levels, and in local languages. He gave me guidelines on how to ensure no one is left behind in achieving the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. He promised to personally support our efforts at country level as well.

In conversation with Youthink delegate from China:

This was a great opportunity to liaise with the youth delegation from China, and we were able to share presentations on tree planting activities carried out across Cameroon, Uganda and the Philippines by Ntiokam Divine, volunteers and the coordinators and founders of CSAYN. Later, we shared the VR experience with them, and the youth present were very supportive of planning for COP23 by coming up with similar innovations.


COP22 Civil Society Climate March

Various groups, mainly consisting of civil society participants present for COP22, gathered for a 3km climate march to show solidarity and voice common concerns on the effects of climate change and urge government action to be taken immediately. The Climate March was a significant accomplishment, especially for a lot of non-state actors and civil society groups in voicing their demands and reminding the world once more of the severity of the situation and the actions that decision makers should take and enforce. In conjunction with fellow youth and civil society activists, members from PACJA (Pan African Climate Justice Alliance) and the African Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) showed a high visibility and presence to represent and voice Africa’s demands on behalf of civic society and youth. At the forefront of the demands was the expressed need for implementation, action and enhanced commitment on the Paris Agreement by signatory parties.


Green Zone

The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) hosted its side event panel discussion at the COP22 Green Zone on November 15th. The theme of the discussion was “Making Climate Finance Work for Youth in Africa.” The side event was productive in bringing African youth at the COP together and also to engage with other youth from Europe, Asia and North America for exchanging experiences and best practices. Among many highlights, a detailed brief from Mr. Ibraheem Ceesay (Chair of AYICC) focused on some of the major continental youth funding mechanisms and opportunities that already exist for young Africans to tap into. Abiy Shimelis (AYICC East Africa) – pointed out the importance of young people’s proactive role in following up climate finance within the local context of their country and seeking ways on how it can be an input for youth capacity building especially towards adaptation.

Blue Zone

A briefing session with the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa H.E Dr. Abdulla Hamdok took place alongside a team from AYICC and ACLYP.  The session was instrumental in consolidating the various ongoing activities, prospects and challenges during the COP22 on behalf of the African Group of Negotiators (as briefed by Dr. Seth Osafa), African Civil Society movement (as briefed by PACJA) and the African Youth (as briefed by AYICC).

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Register your interest for the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development: 1-3 March, Bonn, Germany


1-3 March 2017

World Conference Center, Bonn, Germany


In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. We need a revolution in the way we think about international development if we are to deliver such an ambitious agenda by 2030. The Global Festival of Ideas plans to catalyse that revolution.

PlenaryJoin us for the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development at the World Conference Center in Bonn from 1-3 March 2017, and be one of the first to become an active player in the world’s first ‘playable’ conference on the SDGs, exploring how they can be achieved. The Festival will bring together leading thinkers, policy-makers, civil society and activists, together with gaming experts and policy simulators.

Get involved in interactive and immersive sessions that tackle the tough choices and trade-offs in this ambitious global agenda. Together we’ll chart new thinking on the world’s biggest development challenges and mobilise key partnerships and resources to drive action now and in the future.

bonnThe interactive event will feature:

  • High level plenary sessions, presentations, discussion and debates to share critical ideas, showcase success and hear from keynote speakers
  • Real time problem-solving through policy simulations and participatory games based on interactive technology, built by expert game designers
  • Innovation hubs that showcase the work of a wide variety of organisations

Together, we’ll explore some of the toughest challenges in international development along the following themes:

  • Disruptors to progress: Violence, movement of people, and responses
  • Inequality: Reducing inequalities, revisiting globalisation
  • Sustainability and growth: Water, food, energy and green growth

…as well as critical areas for action on the SDGs – including awareness-raising, citizen engagement and partnership and collaboration.

Follow this link to register your interest and find out more about the festival today!