Winners of the first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards announced

The Awards Ceremony honored winners in seven categories during the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, highlighting transformative action for the SDGs around the world

March 21, 2018 (Bonn) – The winners of the first United Nations SDG Action Awards have been announced this Wednesday by the UN SDG Action Campaign, demonstrating the extraordinary momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in different corners of the earth.

See photos of the Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony was held in tandem with the second edition of the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, and honored initiatives in the categories of communicator, connector, includer, innovator, mobilizer, storyteller, and visualizer.

“These are ‘Action’ Awards because we need more than words: our winners dared to believe and act for change. They are perfect examples of the wonderful work that’s happening around the world led by thousands, if not millions, of people”, said Mitchell Toomey, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

The winning initiatives are fighting corruption in Nigeria, mobilizing Belgians to implement the SDGs in their daily lives, empowering children through photography and digital skills in Bangladesh, promoting human rights education in Sri Lanka and much more. Evidencing the multi-sectoral engagement to achieve the SDGs, the winners span over private and public sectors, as well as civil society and grassroots movements.

Over 700 nominations from 125 countries in 7 continents were submitted. An expert judging panel evaluated submissions against the degree to which actions were deemed to be transformative, inclusive and impactful.

In addition, an open vote was held on the website of the UN SDG Action Campaign where visitors could rate their favorite among the 38 finalists to win the People’s Choice Award.

“Great solutions for the world’s challenges can come from anywhere. We hope everyone is inspired by these stories and consider submitting their nominations for future Awards. These are the first winners of a community that will continue to grow”, said Toomey.

ABOUT THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN

The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN-Secretary General, administered by the UNDP to create awareness about the 2030 Agenda, empower and inspire people across the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while generating political will, and help make the Goals attainable by 2030. For more information, please visit https://sdgactioncampaign.org.

ABOUT THE GLOBAL FESTIVAL OF ACTION

The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is the world´s annual event to celebrate, empower, and connect the global community driving Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organised by the UN SDG Action Campaign with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Festival connects an inspiring mix of business leaders, activists, UN representatives, academia, governments, innovators, global organisations, and the media from across the globe. Taking place in Bonn each year, the Festival provides a dynamic and interactive space to showcase the latest innovations, tools, and approaches to SDG action and connect organizations and individuals from different sectors and regions to exchange, build partnerships, and make the impact of their solutions scale.

Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals was the first-ever multi-stakeholder symposium in Canada dedicated to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Together 2017 bridged the gap across sectors about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of collaboration and innovation in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

By convening representatives from across academia, civil society, national and subnational levels of government including federal, provincial, and municipal, Indigenous communities, the private sector and youth, Together 2017 set a foundation for how all stakeholders can work collectively to use the 2030 Agenda as a framework and common language, creating better organizations and communities in a better world. While conversations within sectors are taking place across the country about Agenda 2030, there exists a significant gap for convening multi-sector conversations.

Together 2017 fostered an environment which allowed diverse stakeholders to have open dialogue, learn, share and advance together. The Together 2017 Symposium provided an opportunity and platform for participants to showcase their work, celebrate accomplishments towards the SDGs, and identify where there is more work to be done.

Together 2017 speaker and participant Terry Sloan from the Southwest Native Cultures in Albuquerque, New Mexico expressed the impact of his participation at Together 2017 as being transformative. He had the opportunity to connect and share his wealth of knowledge with those in attendance particularly through his participation in the “Indigenous Perspectives on Achieving the SDGs” session. He encouraged using the Together 2017 “template” as a mechanism to foster the achievement of the UN SDGs and advancing Agenda 2030 both locally and globally.

Together 2018 will be taking place in Edmonton, Alberta in October 2018 with satellite conferences happening from coast to coast to coast across Canada. The Together movement has convened organizations to start a conversation that would not normally occur and will continue over the next 13 years. Conference organizers hope that Together will become a recurring symposium that travels across the country, broadening representation, charting progress, identifying next steps and keeping the discussion on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs alive and current. ​Together 2018 will look at what has been accomplished and where more efforts are needed. It will examine Canada’s voluntary national review, encourage new leaders to join the movement, and identify innovative ways to tackle the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

For more information:

Visit their Facebook page

The Stockholm Act

A win-win-win-win program with many satakeholders (and no unintelligible jargon)

A win-win program with many stakeholders (and no unintelligible jargon)

One of the complicated challenges -as well as one of the strengths- of Agenda 2030 is the underlying goal to communicate the SDGs simultaneously. It demands a kind of whole earth approach without becoming lost in abstract detachment. The aim is to go deep as well as wide.

The team behind the Stockholm Act created a space that managed to navigate this somehow paradoxical aim. By bringing together the otherwise separated dimensions – politics, finance, culture and science – they forced the language out of a jargon that can easily be distancing. The seven day long festival included a widespread program such as philosophically contemplating “The Overview Effect” live on stage with the Swedish Space Program, Carl Folke (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Johanna Koljonen and the world famous jazz band, Fire! Orchestra.  Meantime, in another room, students from Fryshuset (16-20 years old) presented an assignment on how youth view the Agenda 2030.

The students coordinated with a startup, Inicio, the Royal Institute of Technology, the Swedish Energy Agency and Fortum Värme. Together they tried and also made a bicycle that could recharge smartphones used to upload photos on Snapchat/Instagram. Fortum Värme’s CEO also got a mentor from Fryshuset in digital transformation. A win-win coordinated event and a collaboration between different stakeholders that is still developing further.

Living in the postmodern paradigm, one of the dangers is social fragmentation, and the examples in current years across are abundant. Behind the initiative is the belief that in order to accelerate the transformation toward Agenda 2030 as much as possible, everyone should feel engaged and invited. A strategy was built to broaden the engagement for Agenda 2030 and to safeguard from creating a movement that a lot of people felt excluded from.

The team managed to create an inclusive platform open to all regardless of class, background, age, expertise or expression, gathering over 41 000 visitors. The plan for the future is to share the knowledge for the next Act (in Sweden or another place in the world) to help accelerate the movement to achieve the global goals.

Who is behind this?

The Stockholm Coordination Initiative

For more information:

 www.stockholmact.se

REACT & Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative

Education in emergencies requires urgent fundraising and a powerful business coalition

Education in emergencies requires urgent fundraising and a powerful business coalition

The business community’s contributions to education have been small, short-term, and uncoordinated – and a fraction of the size of business contributions to other sectors like health and climate. With an estimated 75 million children having had their education disrupted and more than half of the world’s young people projected to be without the basic skills necessary for job by 2030, the team behind this initiative decided there was no time to waste.

The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) brings together business alongside NGOs, UN Agencies and young people to solve the toughest challenges in education and drive forward progress on SDG 4. Two challenges the team has prioritized are education in emergencies and the youth skills gap. The small team has “hearts of activists and heads of strategists” and they have leveraged millions of dollars in public-private support to help young people have opportunity through education. The team established the REACT digital platform to efficiently and effectively record, match, and deploy corporate resources to the education needs in emergencies. By utilizing the digital platform’s immediacy and ease of access, the project has enabled a real-time matchmaking and streamlined delivery of contributions from more than 55 companies to the most urgent educational needs.

For instance, the team worked with HP on a Livelihoods Center in Istanbul to support Syrian refugees. Marisa – a Syrian refugee who left everything behind and had her university education stopped because of the conflict – admits this project has given her the opportunity to continue her studies and to have a routine and a place to go to everyday to gain skills for a job. To address the looming skills gap, the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative convenes business leaders, youth organizations, international organizations and civil society to identify models for industry leaders bridge the skills gap by working directly with young people.

These unique partnerships across diverse stakeholders make it possible to deliver positive impact and transformative models of change. Just last month, the project brokered a $15 million pledged from the business community to deliver low-cost technology solutions for school systems in the poorest countries and expand access to learning opportunities for millions of children. The team aspires to be the go-to source for the business community in global education to lead the private sector in driving education investments across the globe, engaging in critical dialogue on key issues, facilitating multi-sector partnerships, and harnessing opportunities to bring dozens of companies and partnerships valued at hundreds of millions of dollars to deliver SDG4.

Who is behind this?

A team of five youth leaders from the Global Business Coalition for Education

For more information:

REACT & Youth skills and innovation 

AYM Youth Empowerment Forum on the Implementation of SDGs and Agenda2063

What started in 2012 as a Facebook group is now totally out of control

What started in 2012 as a Facebook group is now totally out of control

Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) is a pan-African, youth-led movement that strives for the participation, development and leadership of African youth to transform Africa. Started as a Facebook group in 2012, launched in 2015, AYM is becoming one of Africa’s largest youth movements connecting 10,000 members from 40 countries. To boost the implementation of the SDGs, it is critical to mobilize and invest in the continent’s youth to amplify their voices and empower them to collaborate in incorporating the agenda into national development strategies.

The team identified the gaps in awareness and coordination among youth initiatives as well as youth and other stakeholders nationally, regionally and globally. Also, they identified the need to play the role of a Connector because there were no other networks trying to fill this gap particularly with a focus on empowering youth in creating the Africa We Want by co-creating innovative ways of engagement. Therefore, the team created a groundbreaking new model of youth forums on the continent called “AYM Youth Empowerment Forum from Global Agenda to Africa’s Agenda”.

By organizing the inaugural Forum in Nairobi, they brought together 84 various youth actors many of whom represent grassroots initiatives, from 19 countries and equipped them with needed tools to connect and engage in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. They also partnered with universities and engaged the UN and other stakeholders by hosting conversations that matter for youth through open space, art of hosting and creative ways of harnessing collective wisdom and organizing.

The forums have resulted in structured, gender balanced, committed country focused teams called “AYM Youth Hubs”. The forum model was also replicated into national forums; in Lagos engaging religious leaders and Kampala engaging embassies and private sector. The funding model focused on maximizing strategic partnerships, members’ mobilization through their organizations and community fundraising. The initiative has been transformative, inclusive, impactful and life-changing for the members of this community.

One of many inspiring stories is Smith Etumba who took a bus trip from Goma via Kigali and Kampala to reach Nairobi to participate in the forum. He was exposed for the first time to an African event discussing the SDGs and connected to many youth from different countries. After a few weeks he went again to Nairobi to represent AYM at the Africa Youth Peace (AYP) Forum to speak about the Congo experience and he helped in the creation of AYPNet, a regional peacebuilding network. Smith went back home and launched with other Congolese participants a national hub under the theme “Active youth, Drivers of Development”. He is now an advocate of SDGs and connector in his community.

The team has already launched four decentralized hubs, in Uganda, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria and they want to launch another 15 hubs across Africa this year, where their members are eager to organize their national forums. The forums and hubs resulted in harmonized Action Plans, peer-to-peer mentorship advocacy campaigns and regional spaces that need our ongoing support and facilitation.

Who is behind this?

Afrika Youth Movement

For more information:

Visit http://afrikayouthmovement.org/

African Youth SDGs Summit

The impossible-possible mission of connecting the youngest continent

The impossible-possible mission of connecting the youngest continent

Africa is the youngest continent with over 200 million people aged between 15-24  in 2015 accounting for 19 percent of the global youth population (UNECA ,2015). By 2030, it is projected that the number of youth in Africa will have increased by 42 per cent. Despite this number, investment in the socio-economic empowerment and participation of young people in decision-making processes on the continent is limited. The majority of African youth continue to face a myriad of challenges not limited to unemployment, lack of skills, quality and relevant education and quality health care. Thus, a greater proportion of youth do not have the opportunity to fully develop their potential and contribute effectively to the development agenda on the continent.

The African Youth SDGs Summit series was started in 2017 in Ghana as an annual Pan-African country rotational initiative to mobilize and activate the power of young people to drive the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa. The maiden event attracted 425 participants from 25 countries tackling topics spanning across SDGs themes such as environment, gender, disabilities, economic and social development.

The African Youth SDGs Summit envisions a continent which is open to continuous dialogue with its vibrant youthful population. The future goal of the initiative is to ensure that this is not a one-time event but the start of larger movement and SDG Youth conversation in Africa.

Who is behind this?

Emmanuel Ametepey

For more information:

Visit www.youthsdgssummit.org

Circular Economy Club

Getting (really!!!) serious on circular economy

Getting (really!!!) serious on circular economy

A network that started with one member (can that be called a “network”?) is now gathering over 2,600 circular economy professionals from over 60 countries spreading knowledge, mentorship, activities and support all over the world. The Circular Economy Club (CEC) is a non-profit international network that was born due to the lack of visibility and connections that often keep circular economy local initiatives from having a higher impact.

Connecting people with the same interests allows individuals to exchange knowledge, create collaborations, and have a stronger impact than they would have separately. CEC is the only organization bringing together all actors in the circular economy space, making them visible and connected, for free.

Within 2 years, CEC has become the fastest-growing international, open, collaborative non-profit network in the circular economy field and has had a tremendous impact in connecting individuals and organizations, including 23 dedicated volunteer team members, 37 CEC Mentors providing free mentorship to start-ups and students to embed sustainability in different sectors, such as fashion, or city development, 45 CEC Organizers from all continents running local workshops and receiving recognition for being the field connector in their regions, 67 CEC Mapping Week Organisers running a workshop to identify circular initiatives in their cities to then upload all the information to a common open-source directory which enables anyone to find those initiatives and contact them, 2,600 CEC Members sharing best practices around sustainability and finding new partners; and 35,000 followers across all channels gaining access to tools on how to implement the circular economy and joining local CEC workshops to connect with other like-minded professionals.

Each of these actions has a vast impact on the individuals taking part. For instance, the Port Harcourt (Nigeria) CEC Organiser said that thanks to CEC, he is now well connected and empowered to bring together the community in Nigeria and help drive his country towards a circular economy.

Decentralizing CEC through the network of volunteer organizers has been key to its worldwide impact. In this light, the key 2018 goals are to get onboard 200 volunteer organizers worldwide who bring together the circular economy community in their cities, and also the launching of the ‘Shaping the Future’ project through which 300 CEC Members transfer their knowledge to 9,000 university students, aiming to nurture sustainability leadership among the younger generations.

Who is behind this?

Anna Tarí Sánchez

For more information:

Visit http://www.circulareconomyclub.com/

Unreasonable Goals

Each year until 2030 the team at Unreasonable Group will bring together highly scalable solutions armed with leading edge technologies and match them, during a two week gathering, with world-class mentors, select foundations, sovereign wealth funds, policy makers, multinational executives, and private equity firms to help scale-up their efforts to meet the SDGs.

Each year until 2030 the team at Unreasonable Group will bring together highly scalable solutions armed with leading edge technologies and match them, during a two week gathering, with world-class mentors, select foundations, sovereign wealth funds, policy makers, multinational executives, and private equity firms to help scale-up their efforts to meet the SDGs.

Unreasonable Goals is a first of its kind initiative with the singular focus of accelerating our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by operating at the nexus of policy governments, finance, multinationals, and the world’s most promising impact entrepreneurs.  This matters because every year, more than $120B is spent in international development assistance, yet this system has yet to produce the game-changing results we all know are needed.

Unreasonable Goals is designed to bring new problem solvers to the table: profitable entrepreneurs with cutting edge technologies that can, in partnership with governments and select multinationals worldwide, measurably, and with financially sustainable models, solve the SDGs. During its first year, this initiative cohort of 16 world-changing ventures hailed from all over the globe with operations spanning a variety of sectors, disciplines, and markets – from managing direct trade cacao sourcing and distribution in Guatemala, to producing off-grid wave powered clean energy in Australia, to operating the first Fair Trade Apparel company on the continent of Africa. Collectively the cohort positively impacts the lives of over 8.1 million individuals directly and in a measurably way and has operations and sales reaching 68 countries.

Furthermore, the 16 ventures represent the job-creators of tomorrow around sustainable industries and are already actively supporting more than 2,000 jobs. To-date the cohort has raised $170.9 million in collective funding since the program’s launch in July 2017. These 16 entrepreneurs were uniquely positioned to each solve one of the first 16 SDG’s and the 17th “entrepreneur” representing the 17th goals was the US government itself via the State Department.

This initiative will be running annually through 2030 and each year will host the program in partnership with a new international government. The ultimate aim is to create a program where innovative entrepreneurs, governments, and values aligned multinational corporations can all collaborate towards the goal of ending poverty, globally, in all its forms. The project’s vision is that each SDG is intertwined in such a way that none can be solved individually or in silos.

Who is behind this?

Daniel Epstein

For more information:

Visit https://unreasonablegroup.com/