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.
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.
1 in 9 people still goes to bed hungry every night. Right now there are 4 famines active in the world and fulfilling basic food security needs are a great challenge. As the world population continues to grow, much more effort and innovation will be urgently needed in order to sustainably increase agricultural production, improve the global supply chain, decrease food losses and waste, and ensure that all who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition have access to nutritious food. So how do we reach SDG 2, a world without hunger, by 2030?
9 global startups have been selected to be part of a competition to seek support for their proposed solutions to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and be selected to present their ideas to decision makers at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in the margins of the STI Forum in May 2017.
On March 10-12th 800 participants from nine cities and five continents connected and collaborated during the Influx Trust #Connect2Effect 48-hour global hackathon (an intense 48hr start up idea prototyping session) organised with the support of the UN SDG Action Campaign around three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 9, Goal 10 and Goal 12. These 17 Goals are the world’s greatest challenges as agreed by 193 member states. Influx Trust and its organising partner Adpreneurs have created a compelling and innovative way for people and organisations to get involved in the effort to pursue these goals
The hackathon kicked off in each region with a unique message from H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly: “Throughout the tenure of my Presidency, my office and I will remain firmly committed to fostering new methods of increasing awareness about the new agenda, and ways of working across sectors to achieve its implementation. As such, we look forward to closely following the outcomes of the hackathon, and will warmly welcome the winners to the United Nations Headquarters.”
WHY THIS IS WORTH SHOUTING ABOUT?
In just one weekend the event generated 90+ world-changing startup ideas, 20K Facebook followers, 3 million impressions of #Connect2Effect and 200K views of H.E. Thomson’s, public endorsement video.
The nine #Connect2Effect winners will now spend the following month honing and marketing their idea, competing for the chance to pitch their ideas at the New York UN Headquarters in the margins of the second annual Science, Technology and Innovation Forum on May 15-16th 2017.
In the lead up, Influx Trust are launching a crowdfunding platform (crowdfunding.connect2effect.com) for the wider public to support the winning teams as the projects develop and go beyond the hackathons and into the real world. The success of the crowdfunding campaigns will form a component of the evaluation for who will win. Once the competition has ended, this platform will launch to the public as a crowdfunding platform specifically for solving ideas for the SDGs.
WHAT ARE THE 2017 SELECTED SDG GOALS?
The UN’s 193 member states have agreed to 17 goals as priorities for the world to tackle by 2030. This year Influx Trust focused on 3 of them:
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation Infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities
SDG 12 – Sustainable Consumption & Production
WHO ARE THE REGIONAL WINNERS?
BAHRAIN (SDG 9): Paperless – E-receipts that cut down on paper waste
BALI (SDG 12): Niskala – Educate and reduce waste generated from religious festivals that are a large contributor to the severe waste issues Indonesia is suffering with
CHANDIGARH (SDG 9): Help aid the education of blind children with a paperless Braille tablet
GENEVA (SDG 12): 24/7 – Access to Antiretroviral Treatment for people on the move
LAGOS (SDG 9): Smart Transit – A culturally appropriate app to tackle poor transit in Nigeria by offering local transport information in real time
LISBON (SDG 9): Lettuce Grow – An app that connects small scale farmers directly with consumers to boost agricultural industry and local economy
LONDON (SDG 9): eQuality – A system that allows shoppers to educate themselves around the ethical, political & environmental impact of their product purchases
NEW YORK (SDG 12): Kindred – The world’s first closed-loop marketplace for sustainable garments.
RIO DE JANEIRO (SDG 10): Jardim DigitaL – An app that connects refugees with jobs open and available to them by fair and honest employers .
Overall the #Connect2Effect initiative has proven that there is a widespread desire for open innovation between the public and the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals and that this work can be expected to grow in terms of impact and scope. You can learn more about this project www.connect2effect.com
In September 2015, 193 countries agreed to work together on a 15-year global plan to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. This plan includes 17 Goals that serve as an urgent guiding masterplan to tackle the world’s greatest challenges and ensure that no one is left behind. Innovative individuals are urgently needed to join together with countries and partners to turn the bold and ambitious global plan into action. See the 17 SDGs here.
To rapidly generate an unprecedented level of innovation and collaboration around the SDGs, the 3-day #Connect2effect Global Hackathon will bring together these innovators with different skillsets ranging from marketing to programming to designing.
The event will produce a series of basic workable prototypes that can be further expanded after the event. The best ideas will be developed and supported through local incubation programmes, mentoring on crowdfunding platform. Winners will receive an invitation to pitch their ideas at the UN Headquarters in New York at the Science, Technology & Innovation Forum taking place at the UN Headquarters in NYC 15th – 17th of May.
Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign stresses the value of #Connect2Effect for the UN: “At the UN SDG Action Campaign, we consistently strive to find ways to reach new audiences to inform and inspire them about the SDGs. We also empower individuals to work together and serve as agents of change, honouring the best solutions in a variety of methods. We are eager to empower the best creative thinkers and problems solvers to help the UN and governments achieve their goals”.
H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly, fully supports the #Connect2Effect initiative: “Each and every one of us has a critical role to play – as individuals role-modeling sustainable living, as innovators and creative thinkers conceiving new ideas, and as activists working with others to implement solutions to shape our world towards a sustainable future. I look forward to being inspired by the outcomes of the hackathon and to warmly welcome the winners to the United Nations“
The initiative is the first of an annual series which over time will create a sustained network of individuals who can mentor each other and work together to come up with the best ideas for achieving the SDGs, as Max Kallis, CEO of Influx Trust points out: “We are eager to support the UN by leveraging our network and expertise to come up with solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems.”
This year’s hackathon will bring together people in Manama, Bahrain, Lagos, Nigeria, Chandigargh, India, and Lisbon, Portugal to tackle industry innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), in London, U.K., and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to reduce inequalities (SDG 10) and in Bali, Indonesia, Geneva, Switzerland and New York City, USA to generate a shift towards more responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).
FACTS & FIGURES:
1000 Entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives working together across 9 global locations (Manama, Bali, Chandigarh, Geneva, Lagos, Lisbon, London, New York and Rio) on 5 continents.
193 United Nation Member States
17 Sustainable Development Goals to solve by 2030
72 hours for teams to collaborate and help hack three of the SDGs.
6 Headline Partners for #Connect2Effect 2017 to help our teams with the resources they need.
3 SDGs to hack during #Connect2Effect
1 Crowdfunding platform that will take an idea and put it in the market in a weekend.
ABOUT THE COLLABORATORS:
The Influx Trust is a UK charity that fosters a community of individuals and businesses eager to share their knowledge and resources to support the UN’s priorities. @InfluxTrust
The UN SDG Action Campaign is a global interagency initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, with the mission of ensuring that everyone has the support, encouragement and capability to advocate and act to ensure the SDG agenda is brought to life. It recognises and celebrates the innovators, conveners and break-through actors who are transforming lives, tackling trade-offs and generating practical solutions to some of the world’s most intractable development problems. The Campaign is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the German Federal Government. @SDGAction
The President of the General Assembly is an annually geographically rotating position voted for by representatives in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The President of the 71st and current session, H.E. Mr Peter Thomson from Fiji, presides over the General Assembly, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. Made up of all the 193 Member States of the UN, the General Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. @UN_PGA
Jayne & Misael | Kitsch.inc on behalf of Influx Trust | firstname.lastname@example.org Kristin Gutekunst | UN SDG Action Campaign | email@example.com Katharina Kandt | Office of the President of the UN General Assembly| firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridges of Understanding Annual Gala, 12 December: New York
Bridges of Understanding is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, nonpolitical organization established in 2007 to enhance positive relations between the United States and Arab World through one-to-one connections between thought leaders and the creation of original youth focused programs.
The Campaign has had a partnership with Bridges of Understanding since June 2016 to promote empathy and understanding around the refugee crisis, co-develop educational and new media activities and to increase awareness and action around the SDGs.
The Campaign organized a We the Peoples hub during the annual Gala. The SDGs were on display, featured as a selfie tool at the step and repeat photowall. Guests also had the opportunity to watch Clouds Over Sidra & My Mother’s Wing on virtual reality headsets. The gala honored Arianna Huffington and Chaker Ghazaal for their contribution to promoting global citizenship, connecting people, countries and cultures.