For a growing number of countries, innovation — spurred by technological advances and increased access to global markets — is a leading driver of economic growth and prosperity. New technologies and an appetite for social, economic, and policy reforms are creating new entry points to address the most stubborn development challenges. Whether it is around technology innovations, alternative finance models or experimentation policy, governments are increasingly realizing that they need to invest in social innovation approaches to better engage with citizens, establish their overall legitimacy and create the next generation of services.
The report ‘Spark, Scale, Sustain’ shares UNDP’s approach to innovation: over 40 case studies of innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals in practice and Features on Alternative Finance, Behavioral Insights, Data Innovation and Public Policy Labs.
The innovation initiatives are testing and scaling solutions to address challenges across five areas:
Decades of negative communication about hunger and hopelessness in developing countries has resulted in a general public attitude that the fight against poverty does not work. We need a new narrative about global development: Nuanced and current knowledge creates hope – and hope creates motivation for action.
World’s Best News is an example of a unique partnership that brings together the UN and more than 100 NGOs and 100 private companies. Since 2010, the independent media platform World’s Best News has published news about progress and solutions to the world’s challenges to the Danish population. All uniting to spread news about progress on a variety of different platforms using the Sustainable Development Goals as the frame and constructive journalism as method. The aim is to connect civil society, business, and the citizens in the pursuit of a more informed and sustainable world.
Today, World’s Best News is now an international network with sister organizations in Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Finland.
“World’s Best News has shown that it is possible to change the world. You are creators of hope and perspective.”
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, Member of Danish Parliament.
“The collaboration with World’s Best News has made us reconsider our coverage of global issues. When you started with constructive journalism it influenced the rest of the content in our newspaper”
Jonas Ratje, Editor in Chief, Metroxpress.
How and why this action impacts the people in the community ? When more people know about the solutions to the world’s problems, they are more motivated to ensure these solutions will be implemented and put into action. When World’s Best News launched in 2010, 16% of the Danes believed there was progress in lifting people out of poverty; in 2016 this number increased to 32%.
This and other key findings are part of the results of several pilot studies collecting perceptions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to assist decision-makers in SDG review activities. The results, collected through a collaborative research project between the UN SDG Action Campaign and Paragon Partnerships, in particular Kantar Public and Lightspeed, as part of the MY World 2030 project, were presented today during the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations. The Forum is the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2017.
The UN SDG Action Campaign & Kantar Public have developed and tested a question library of almost 100 SDG Questions and then conducted a research study in 11 voluntary reporting countries for this year. The results are representative and weighted samples across the following countries provide a baseline against which to measure progress in future years.
One third of people are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Overall. One in three respondents are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals. Younger respondents (ages 16-29) were more familiar with the SDGs than older respondents. There are huge differences among countries. Respondents in Thailand (the least developed country in the sample) were the most aware, while respondents in Denmark (the most developed country) were least aware. Japan and Argentina were the countries with least awareness levels, with over 80% of the population not aware of the SDGs. There is a lot to be done!
SDG 1 / 20% of the population is still struggling to afford basic needs.
This percentages goes up to 35% for those who haven’t completed primary education.
SDG 2 / The struggle for food is very similar in countries with the highest and lowest Development Index and it affects about 20% of the population who are struggling to have enough food to eat.
When asked about how easy or difficult has it been for respondents and their household to have enough food to eat, 20% of all respondents across the sample, without distinction between Low and High Developed Countries (according to the Human Development Index) found it very or quite difficult to have enough food to eat in the past twelve months. Some differences are shown, with Argentina, a country with a Very High HDI level, reporting the most difficulty ( 37% stated “Quite Difficult.”) and Denmark with the least difficulty (55% answering “Very Easy”).
SDG 3 / Access to healthcare has not changed since last year. 1 in 4 respondents are not satisfied with the quality.
For the majority of respondents the situation hasn’t changed. But one in four respondents are not satisfied with the quality of healthcare. Thailand scored as the country where it has most improved.
SDG 5 / More people agree than disagree that women earn the same amount of money for doing the same job.
Overall, more respondents agree than disagree that women earn the same amount of money for doing the same job. Regional differences are shown, as the majority of European respondents disagree with this statement, while the majority of S.E Asian respondents agree.
SDG 9 / Access to internet is still an issue.
One in five respondents reported they were “often” or “always” having problems with internet access. Malaysian respondents reported the most difficulty accessing the internet with 11% answering “always” versus the Netherlands as the country with the least difficulty, with 61% answering “never” or “rarely”. The age difference also played a role, with the majority of respondents aged 60+ reporting more difficulty than younger ones.
SDG 14 / The oceans and seas are not clean enough, and half the population agrees.
Argentina and Italy scored high (73% in Argentina and 69% in Italy) in the perception that their rivers and lakes are not very clean or not clean at all. In Italy and the Czech Republic, conditions have gotten worse according to around 30% of the people surveyed, whereas in Malaysia and Portugal, conditions were reported to have improved. Sweden and Denmark were the exception, with above 70% of the respondents reporting that their rivers and lakes were very clean or fairly clean.
Good Health, Eradication of Poverty and Decent Work are the primary concerns for citizens.
It is interesting to note that in MY World 2015, with a much bigger sample size, the top issues of concern were Education, Healthcare, Jobs, Honest & Responsive Government. People are still choosing the same top issues two years on! After good health, the top concerns change for women and men – for women being “No poverty” and men being more concerned with “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. Quality Education also made it as a top concern in Argentina.
In total, 7,772 respondents took part in the survey in 11 countries, ranging from 350 in Denmark to 1,011 in Czech Republic. Quotas were set by age, gender and region in each country. Respondents were sampled from Lightspeed and TNS online and mobile access panels. Data is weighted by age, gender, and region in each country. Cross-country comparison is based on additional weights by country population size
In other words: assuming probability sample, for a question response of 49%, we can say that in 95 out of 100 surveys, the true value (which would be obtained if the entire population were asked the question) lies between 46% and 52%.
Young girls in different parts of Bihar often grow up with limited knowledge of menstruation and about their sexual and reproductive health rights. They often find themselves with incorrect information about their bodily changes. Sexual & reproductive health education is rare in schools and most often, majority of young girls do not attend any formal education.
Restless Development is the implementing partner of the project named ‘Making Periods Normal’, funded by Rutgers WPF. The programme is being implemented in the Munger and Bhagalpur district of Bihar, from 2014 to 2017. The target groups of this programme are women, out-of- school and in-school youth, men and stakeholders like ASHA, Aganwadi, community leaders etc.
The programme focuses on promoting knowledge among girls and women on puberty, menstrual health and sexual and reproductive health as well as creating conducive environment for them by engaging stakeholders.
“I preferred to stay at home during my menstruation to avoid embarrassment, I did not know how to use a sanitary pad or the hygiene practices during my periods. In 2015 I attended the menstrual health management session conducted by Restless Development, and learned about hygiene practices to avoid infection”
Mamta Kumar, a 15 year old, is currently one of the 40 trained educators
Restless Development conducted a needs assessment and its results are shocking:
75% of girls across India don’t have any knowledge of what material should be used during menstruation and were majorly using cloths which were unclean.
25% of out-of- school girls were not using anything during their periods.
To tackle the issue of insufficient information on menstruation, they are implementing a full programme specially designed for young girls on menstrual health hygiene management. The sessions are designed in a manner that give young girls the space to learn about body changes and speak about their health issues.
In order to provide a more holistic approach Restless Development includes trainings for teachers, mothers, peer educators and young boys in our programme. They created a pool of 40 peer educators specifically trained to provide knowledge and guidance to young girls in their communities and districts.
“I did not have the courage to share my health problems with my mother, I did not have the confidence to do so. A friend told me about the menstrual hygiene management session by Restless Development. I then understood the menstrual cycle & spoke about my irregular periods to the volunteers”
Rinku Kumari, 19 year old, Bhagalpur, Bihar
The number of girls who could report menstruation as a sign of puberty went from 4% to 58%.
80% of young people involved in our intervention could identify problems experienced by girls during menstruation.
92% of girls who used cloth during the menstruation said that they dried their used cloth in sunlight.
Awareness about sexually transmitted infections increased to 78% from 58%.
The objective of this initiative is to educate young people on puberty and menstrual health to help them adopt safe health practices, and educate teachers/parents, peer educators the importance of educating young girls on menstrual hygiene. Reaching more than 90,000 young people and having trained 40 educators on Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), restless development did not stop there and eventually designed a special mobile app called M-Sathi to make SRHR education accessible to all.
Publicado por: Rosario del Pilar Díaz Garavito – The Millennials Movement Founder and CEO
Los océanos ofrecen a la humanidad una infinidad de recursos y beneficios que impactan en la vida de las personas de manera directa o indirecta, además de ser un regulador del clima por excelencia los océanos brindan la posibilidad de dinamizar economías locales, proveen de alimentos nutritivos a las diferentes comunidades, entre otros beneficios. Sin embargo este recurso y el ecosistema marino se ven amenazadosdía a día por diversas situaciones que se presentan en el área terrestre como en los mismos océanos, temas como contaminación, acidificación de los océanos, subsidios pesqueros, generan daños en el ecosistema marino impactando de manera negativa en la comunidad global.
Por lo que, en el marco del llamado global para proteger los océanos,realizado en la Conferencia Sobre los Océanos y las acciones enmarcadas en el Objetivo de Desarrollo Sostenible 14: Vida Submarina, desde TheMillennialsMovement, organización miembro del grupo de políticas estratégicas de la plataforma El Mundo Que Queremos, nos sumamos a las acciones para proteger este recurso de la mano con el Centro de Información de Naciones Unidas en el Perú CINU Lima, mediante la iniciativa Campeones por los Océanos.
Campeones por los Océanos busca sensibilizar a las y los estudiantes de escuelas en diferentes regiones del Perú sobre la importancia de los océanos, la problemática existente, las oportunidades que este recurso representa y su articulación con la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible.
Luego del espacio de sensibilización las y los estudiantes participan de un taller en el cual por equipos formulan propuestas para proteger los océanos desde sus escuelas, las mismas que son sometidas a un proceso de votación por los mismos estudiantes. Una vez seleccionada una de las propuestas presentadas, ésta es tomada por los estudiantes y autoridades de la institución educativa como un compromiso para proteger los océanos desde su escuela.
El lanzamiento de la iniciativa y primera intervención se dio en el Colegio Mayor Secundario Presidente del Perú – COAR Lima, el 8 de junio en el marco del Día Mundial de los Océanos. Fueron 100 jóvenes quienes participaron de la conferencia de sensibilización que contó con la participación de representantes Centro de Información de Naciones Unidas Perú – CINU Lima, TheMillennialsMovement y la iniciativa Hazla por tu Playa. Asimismo se difundieron los recursos educativos de la iniciativa La Lección Más Grande del Mundo a las y los estudiantes, quienes también recibieron materiales informativos y participaron de la encuesta Mi Mundo 2030.
Posteriormente una delegación de 40 estudiantes participaron de un taller para desarrollar propuestas y elegir una de ellas como compromiso para proteger los océanos desde su escuela. Así mismo se desarrollaron intervenciones en el Colegio De la Salle en Lima, y en el Colegio de Alto Rendimiento COAR Cajamarca, siendo que en esta última se contó con la participación de la Red Interquorum Cajamarca. Desde la segregación de sus residuos en escuelas, ferias de materiales reciclados, hasta sensibilización de los otros salones de estudiantes fueron los compromisos recabados por nuestros “Campeones por los Océanos”.
“Difundir entre jóvenes las premisas que sustentan la importancia de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible, es una de las principales tareas del Centro de Información de las Naciones Unidas (CINU Lima). Es por eso que para el CINU fue sumamente importante haber organizado una reunión con jóvenes estudiantes del Colegio Presidente del Perú (COAR Lima) precisamente el Día Internacional de los Océanos porque nos permitió no solo ofrecerles información sobre los ODS y en específico delODS 14: Vida Submarina, sino que también nos permitió conocer de sus ideas sobre la importancia de estos objetivos y de su determinación para llevar a cabo una acción concreta. En esta tarea fue importante contar con otros jóvenes, ya comprometidos con esta tarea, como TheMillennialsMovement. Forjar estas alianzas entre los mismos jóvenes es clave para progresar en la Agenda 2030.”
Christian Sánchez – Oficial Nacional de Información, Centro de Información de Naciones Unidas CINU Lima
Según el Banco Mundial, el Perú se encuentra entre los principales productores de pesca en el mundo gracias a su ubicación geográfica, que le permite capturar cerca del 20% del total mundial de peces, sobre todo especies pequeñas como la anchoveta. Dicha pesca es de vital importancia para la economía nacional; en la última década ha representado un promedio del 7% del total de nuestras exportaciones.La actividad pesquera aporta al país un alimento nutritivo que contiene 20% de proteínas, lo que supera a las carnes vacuna y avícola, que proveen un 18%. Además, abastece de materia prima a la industria harinera y de aceite de pescado. Su contribución es significativa, pues llega a cerca del 1% del producto bruto interno del país (PBI)1.
Las acciones continuarán en las escuelas de las diferentes regiones de Perú de la mano de TheMillennialsMovement y otros aliados locales, contribuyendo así con las acciones del movimiento en el marco del compromiso hasta el 2018 para proteger los océanos. Conozca más del compromiso en el siguiente enlace: https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/?id=16442
Agradecimientos al equipo de TheMillennialsMovement y a la organización LigaJoc por realizar las tomas fotográficas.
Have you ever had the chance to go scuba diving with whales? How about hanging out with penguins in Antarctica? Have you heard the personal stories of those working on the front lines of ecological activism, such as scientists and indigenous people?
Would being exposed to these experiences help you to become a stronger and more informed advocate about the ocean, or SDG 14, Life Under Water?
To support the Governments of Fiji and Sweden in their mission to inspire advocacy and action for SDG 14 during the Ocean Conference, 5-9 June, UNVR curated a playlist of some of the best in 360’ video and interactive virtual reality to transport viewers to the coasts and deep waters of the sea, bathing them in the sights and sounds of the ocean.
“We have two and a half years’ experience organizing VR exhibitions that transport policy makers into the development challenges the SDGs are seeking to alleviate, especially at UN forums. This is the first time we have brought together multiple VR experiences that coalesce focus on one SDG, in this case SDG14: Life Under Water. The diversity of issues covered provide visitors with a broader context, a choice of issues they can champion, and actions they can take.” said Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of UNVR for the UN SDG Action Campaign.
Curated and produced by the UN SDG Action Campaign, the exhibition is powered by Samsung and includes content collaboration with the Permanent Mission of France, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and through the generous permission of many VR Creators.
In 2015, 11 year-old Sumaya Murabit noticed that there was very little awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals in her local community in Saskatoon, Canada which made it difficult to actually mobilize others into action.
Eager to create awareness and mobilize action Sumaya brainstormed different ideas; in the end she felt that the most cost-effective and practical awareness raising idea was a poster challenge. “With posters it is more fun. Other things like essays make it feel too much like school work and for things like making videos a lot of us don’t have cameras or computers. So the posters were easier because we could do it in art class at the schools and even at home it is not expensive and its fun. And sometimes it’s easier to express your ideas in art.”
After getting her family’s support, Sumaya approached her school teacher, principal and the Saskatoon Public School Board to tell them about the Goals and her idea for a “Poster Challenge” where students designed posters based on the goals. Sumaya also emailed the City Mayor, University Professor Keith Walker and well known radio personality David Kirton. She recruited them onto the “judging panel” and by creating more collaboration with other sectors was able to ensure greater public and media awareness. In the first year, three classes participated in the poster challenge.
Now in its second year, students from three grades in 14 schools – a total of 42 classes – in the city cake together at Roland Michener School Saskatoon where the final posters were viewed and the winner and finalists were announced.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark spoke to students about the importance of local leadership and taking action, Chief of Staff Michelle Beveridge spoke about women’s leadership, Saskatoon Public Schools Director Barry MacDougall spoke about how an idea – with action – can transform the world, indigenous rights activist Andrea Ledding spoke about her work advocated for murdered and missing aboriginal women and the necessity to start now (even if that means starting small). Whitney Graves from Rock 102 told everyone to just “do whatever they put their mind to (unless it’s illegal)”.
The students each spoke about their posters, which Global Goal meant the most to them and what they felt needed to be done to actually achieve them. The winner of the poster challenge was 13 year old Jordyn Guan whose poster focused on “Quality Education”.
Jeff Shepherd, principal of Roland Michener School is incredibly excited to see the challenge continue to grow over the next 13 years, anticipating that next year at least 24 schools city wide will be involved. He encouraged all students with ideas, telling them that while it may seem small, it can impact so many and turn into something great.
All 17 finalist posters have been framed to be showcased by the Saskatoon Public School District and City of Saskatoon.
(C) A. Murabit – Quality Education by Jordyn Guan (Winning Poster)
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.
In a consultation recently conducted in Somalia, and despite the severe challenges the country is facing, most people perceived their situation in the past 12 months has improved in the country. Yet the report shows that greater attention and significant improvements must be made in security, justice, education, and health.
The recently implemented e-consultation, a coordinated effort between the Federal Government of Somalia and UNDP, supported by the SDG Action Campaign, finds that SDG1 – poverty reduction, SDG 2 – food security and nutrition, SDG 3 – health & well-being, and SDG 4 – education, are among those goals in which progress is most notably perceived. Lowest in this ranking are SDG 11 – making cities inclusive, safe and sustainable, SDG 16 – promoting sustainable consumption and production, and SDG 12 – ensuring good and inclusive governance.
The preferred options to tackle these issues and achieve these goals: strengthening of national systems and developing clear strategies and plans.
Cultural Barriers preventing women´s equal participation in decision making
That “women can bring leadership and value to development, when equally represented” was agreed among the majority of participants. The major perceived factor preventing women’s equal participation in development in Somalia: the existence of cultural barriers, followed by lack of awareness about women’s rights and discrimination.
Why is this relevant?
This report harnesses the voices of a wide number of Somali people, their priorities and expectations, to put forward the key areas for investment in order to achieve the Goals. The initiative was specifically implemented at a first stage with the hope for furthering women’s inclusiveness and give the Federal Government of Somalia a better understanding of what is important to its citizens and the basis to create a strategy for implementing the SDGs.
Making the people´s voices count
Consultations allow people to participate effectively in raising their voices to their governments on priorities and on the preferred methods by which these Goals can be achieved and holding them accountable. Through this process we learned some key lessons that will help us better implement these surveys in the future:
Consultations are a key tool to better understand people’s perceptions and consider them in planning processes, monitoring implementation of programmes and projects by asking people about their perceptions on service delivery.
In order to do this, it is key to reflect what are the findings expected from such a survey: what do we want to listen to? This will help us answer important questions such as: Should the consultation be conducted at a national o local level? What segments of the population do we want to engage? what are their preferred or available options to reach out? Should civil society be engaged?
A consultation can support and strengthen an ongoing process and be a useful exercise for the planning and implementation of government plans. Moreover, these exercises are key to improve State legitimacy and build strong institutions.
Nationally-owned designed processes are much stronger when linked to global initiatives.
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.
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.
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: 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.