Cycling across Europe for Climate Action

1 man, 1 woman, 2 bikes, 10,000 km and 9 months to complete it in.
Inka, 19 years old, and Fabian, 18, are two teenagers with a mission: cycling across Europe and discovering people engaged in making a difference for our climate. They are setting an example to many and their message is clear: a sustainable and carbon neutral way of travelling is possible and it does not take too much effort.

These young advocates are the Ambassadors for Climate Neutral Now, a project run by the UNFCCC.  They visited our Global Campaign Centre to learn about the SDGs, and tell us their story of how they became passionate activists for Climate Action. Meet them and be ready to be inspired! 


“People shouldn’t be scared of doing things just because it’s not what is expected. Just do it if you think it is important! ”
Inka – Climate Ambassador

They have so far cycled over 4,000 km to reach Germany from Porto, Portugal on their way to Greece, after which they will return to Bonn in time for the annual UN Climate Change Conference COP23 (6-17 November).

Along the way they are interviewing people from key projects and initiatives, focusing on the UNFCCC secretariat’s Climate Neutral Now and Momentum for Change initiatives but with a view to also seeing what key NGOs such as C40 Cities, their respective mayors and city administrations are doing in terms of climate action.
They agreed to record our chat in a live interview that went on line on the same day on Facebook and that is now available on YouTube as well.

The planned trip of Inka & Fabian
Credit: Europe on four wheels


They are still travelling through Europe and they will be spreading the word and raising awareness on what can people do to be Climate Neutral and try to combat climate change.

Follow them on their trip on Facebook, Instagram and their blog
If you wish to know more about the project and about Climate Action visit : UNFCCC Newsroom 

Inspired by this story? Discover other stories of how people are taking action for SDGs (Humans of MY World) or take action!  

Citizen Scorecard: Two years on, how have people’s lives changed on key SDG targets.

  • 20% of people surveyed struggle to have enough food to eat

  • 8 key findings that can help us understand perceived progress on the SDGs two years after their adoption

  • One in three respondents are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • explore data

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.

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Thailand

Key Findings

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    Thinking about you and your household, which of the following best describes your financial situation?
  3. 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”).

    Question: Thinking about the last 12 months, how easy or difficult has it been for you and your household to have enough food to eat?
  4. 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.

    Question: How satisfied are you with the health services and treatments you and your household have had over the last 12 months?
  5. 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.

    Question: “Today, in our society, women and men earn the equal amount of money for doing exactly the same work at the same level”. Do you agree with this statement?
  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    Question: In your opinion, how clean are the rivers and lakes around where you live ?
  8. Good Health, Eradication of Poverty and Decent Work are the primary concerns for citizens.

Overall, the top 5 SDGs where: 

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.

Methodological Note

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%.

Become a MY World 2030 partner and roll out the survey

MY World Mexico’s Commemoration of World Environment Day & The Ocean Conference

Written by: Jesús Epifanio Vicencio Prior (Content and Writing Division) Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo (National Operations Coordinator) MY World México

One of the key pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is how to protect our planet and secure that future generations enjoy a healthy natural habitat like many of us do. Our environment faces many evident challenges, mainly caused by human activities. These challenges which in many cases have turned into actual issues, have considerable impacts upon human health, biodiversity and climate alterations.

Our country Mexico is a country already affected by theses issues. At the national level, toxic waste; pollution and climate change can be easily identified. Mexico City for example, has one of the highest percentages of annual pollutant emissions in the world. Other cities such as Guadalajara or Monterrey generate around 3.5 and 3% percent respectively. Cities like Mexicali and Tijuana are also among the most polluted cities in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 15,000 people die as a result of pollution-related diseases in our country. Mexico also produces an average of 86,349 tons of waste every year, giving this an approximate of 770 grams per person, which mainly occurs in households, buildings, parks and streets. Around 87% of garbage waste is produced in rural communities.

The official statistics provided by the Mexican government, have shown that in the last 3 years, a total investment of nearly $ 1 billion dollars has been done in fighting pollution. Around 44,000 people in our country in the last 8 years, have lost their lives as a result of pollution according to WHO, and 300 children a month die because of air pollution in Mexico.

These statistics replicate themselves as you look into each country’s case. This is why the United Nations has promoted the protection and improvement of environment though establishing June 5 as World Environment Day. The celebration provides the opportunity to develop a basis for well-informed individuals, organizations and companies to promote the conservation of our environment and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The first time the international community commemorated this day was in 1974. Ever since this day has provided individuals and organizations with a platform of public discussion that aims to preserve a healthy Earth. Each year, World Environment Day revolves around a theme that seeks to place attention upon a particular issue. This year’s theme focused on the relation of people with nature to appreciate its beauty and reflect on how we are an integral part of it.

MY World México through its strong national network, partner with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) and Design For Change to promote actions across the country in favor of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15. This aligned with MY World Mexico’s integral strategy to work at the local, national and international levels for the implementation, monitoring, financing, monitoring and socialization of the SDGs in Mexico.

With the support of UNEP, UNV and Design For Change, MY World Mexico launched a call inviting individuals and organizations to promote #SDGAction in favor of the environment. The call reached many organizations and individuals and at the end of the day we were able to register over 30 activities across the country focused on creating awareness and solutions to solve environmental issues at the local level and promote action towards its protection.

Some of these actions included activities such as cleaning of public spaces; reef system tours; conferences and workshops; responsible consumption lectures; reforestations; tours and guided visits to natural parks; among others. Most of the participations were led by high schools, elementary schools, universities, civil society and interested individuals, as well as the private sector. Participant states included Quintana Roo, Veracruz, Yucatán, Puebla, Mexico City, Jalisco, among many others.

In addition to what was being led on the ground, MY World Mexico was also being represented at the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Two of our 2030 Agenda Youth Ambassadors, Leonildo Tun Caamal and Patricia Lineth Cervantes Rodríguez were responsible for taking to the United Nations the results of MY World Mexico’s National Voluntary Commitment towards SDG 14 on Life Below Water published by the United Nations Presidency of the General Assembly.

The results so far, have included a total of:

  • 15 coasts cleaned in 5 states of Mexico.
  • 3 reef visits in Veracruz.
  • Over 50 awareness activities such as lectures, workshops, conferences and others.

As MY World Mexico worked with the United Nations Global Survey For A Better World MY World 2030, we were able to identify that SDG 14 on Life Below Water was positioned as the least important in people’s choices in this consultation exercise before the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2016. This is why the network considered as fundamental to promote #SDGAction and efforts that helped achieved those goals being left behind.

So far, the results have been incredible and people continue to be motivated to work towards the preservation of our environment beyond the dates that commemorate its existence, as well as challenges.  We reaffirmed our commitment to continue to work on towards the achievement of the SDGs, as well as creating and sharing the knowledge, skills and experiences that help others do the same.

Read MY World Mexico’s full report on World Environment Day (Spanish)

A Year of SDG Action: MY World Mexico

Written by Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo
National Operations Coordinator at MY World México

Three years ago when we had the opportunity to implement the United Nations Global Survey For A Better World MY World 2015 in my hometown Jalisco, México we were able to realize people’s interest in being part of the new global development agenda. Back then, I was amazed by people’s willingness to act and help others participate in the definition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the end of the day, having collected nearly 400,000 voices in the survey thanks to the mobilization of 500 young volunteers and 255 organizations, Jalisco was able to position itself as one of the most participative entities in the world in the definition of these new Global Goals.

This also led to make Jalisco’s the first in our country to align its State Development Plan to the SDGs taking into account the MY World 2015 results. Jalisco was also part of the adoption of the SDGs and was also awarded the “People’s Voices Challenge Award” for Best Multi-stakeholder Collaboration in September 2015. The results also had a considerable impact in Mexico’s First National Voluntary Review before the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2016, as a significant input for SDG actions coming from civil society’s mobilization mechanisms.

However, as soon as the SDGs were adopted in September 2015, the big questions for an already highly motivated team made mostly of young people, were “so what comes next?” and “how do we make sure that the SDGs are a reality by 2030?”. Thankfully for us this was also a question raised by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign which had recently transform itself from the United Nations Millennium Campaign and was exploring the different ways in which MY World could be used as a platform to track awareness and implementation on SDGs and monitor progress according to peoples’ satisfaction until 2030.

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(c) MY World 2030 México – UN SDG Action Campaign. School kids hold the SDGs they feel most passionate about.

This is how a group of organizations and highly motivated people supported by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign and United Nations Volunteers in Mexico, decided to establish a national network called MY World Mexico in April 2016. This network, would not only implement the MY World 2030 survey throughout Mexico, replicating Jalisco’s successful strategy, but would also lead actions at the local, national and international levels for the implementation, monitoring, financing, follow-up and socialization of the SDGs in Mexico.

In its first year, MY World Mexico was able to collect close to 30,000 MY World 2030 votes in at least 25 states around Mexico thanks to the efforts of 75 volunteers and 20 Civil Society Organizations. By July 2016, during the first HLPF that would review countries the team was able to provide the United Nations SDG Action Campaign and Mexico’s Office of the Presidency, the first results of the survey. At the same time at the United Nations Headquarters MY World 2030 was officially launched and members of our team were able to present some of the outcomes of this first implementation phase.

Simultaneously at the grassroots level, our volunteers were activating hundreds of other activities that were able to get others engage in the SDGs. The first challenge that the MY World 2030 results showed was that people did not know about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Around 83% of the people who were surveyed, said they never heard about the SDGs before. The second challenge was that the results of MY World 2030 were quite different from what the MY World 2015 had shown in the past. For example, Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) were among the top priorities, as well as Health and Well-being (SDG 3), which led to identify that people indeed perceive implementation of the SDGs as quite a challenging effort.

Ever since, the network has grown significantly. As of today, MY World México is composed by nearly 60 organizations from academia, civil society, the public and private sectors, as well as 130 volunteers in almost all states in Mexico. The actions and strategies MY World Mexico focuses on are:

  1. Promote and socialize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the support of key stakeholders at the local, national and international levels.
  2. Strengthen and expand the participation and commitment of people in the implementation, monitoring, financing, follow-up and socialization of the SDGs in Mexico.
  3. Lead actions in favor of the SDGs through volunteerism and multi-stakeholder mobilization at the local, national and international levels to achieve all goals and targets proposed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  4. Empower citizens to they promote actions and activities to tell everyone about the SDGs.
  5. Lead national communication campaigns with key stakeholders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  6. Promote the creation of local and inclusive networks for individuals and institutions in favor of the implementation, monitoring, financing, follow-up and socialization of the SDGs.
  7. Co-create and promote accountability mechanisms at the local and national levels by people through ground mobilization and the search of multiple sources, as well as publicly acknowledge efforts and best practices.
  8. Use technology, innovation and creativity to maximize the impact of people’s participation, as well as knowing SDGs progress in the country for information sharing and appropriate use of data.
  9. Lead advocacy actions at the international, national and local levels.
  10. Promote the annual participation of people in the MY World 2030 Survey.

The network has also participated in key advocacy processes in the United Nations, such as:

  • 2016 United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
  • 2016 71º United Nations General Assembly.
  • 2017 United Nations Economic and Social Council Youth Forum.
  • 2017 United Nations 55º Commission for Social Development.
  • 2017 1º Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development.
  • 2017 Youth Forum of the United Nations 61º Commission on the Status of Women.
  • 2017 United Nations 50º Commission on Population and Development.
  • 2017 United Nations First Regional Meeting on Sustainable Development of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

The network is leading actions across the country on a daily basis to achieve the SDGs. We have also taken into account other projects such as Humans of MY World; Virtual Reality; Hackatons; hundreds of conferences and other mechanisms that allow us to tell everyone about the SDGs and incentive action.

The network has been one of the first partners to sign a National Voluntary Commitment before the President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 2017 Ocean Conference leading 25 coastal cleaning activities; 50,000 MY World 2030 surveys and 87 educational activities to achieve SDG 14 on Life Below Water.

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(c) MY World 2030 México – UN SDG Action Campaign. Coastal cleaning activity volunteer holds SDG14
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c) MY World 2030 México – UN SDG Action Campaign. School kids participate in educational activities around SDG14

We have partnered with initiatives such as TeachSDGs, The Global Goals and The World’s Largest Lesson to use existing creative platforms to engage many others in the process. The network grows by numbers every week and is trying to ensure State and Municipal Committees on SDGs are implemented and that the recently established National Council on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development mandated by the Office of the Presidency includes the participation of all social actors involve in the SDGs. The MY World Mexico’s team took part in the installation of this Council, which is hoped to shape federal policies in the SDGs for the years to come.

A year of great achievements for our time has not only motivated others to participate in the SDGs but has built a solid, diverse and talented team across the country. As one of the first pilot countries of the second phase of MY World 2030 we have been able to secure a place for the SDGs in many people’s hearts and minds, as well as in key efforts in organizations from across sectors. We are certain that MY World Mexico will continue to grow and expand itself to make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality in our country.

Being able to lead this amazing project has taught me great life lessons, among them realizing how interested young people are in shaping their future. Interest has led to amazing daily actions, which is why I see MY World Mexico as more than a team but a community that has been able to build a strong spirit of commitment to make our country better. We are in contact every day, through every possible mean, making sure we connect our ideas and our work wherever we go. Part of the success of our strategy depends on respect to diversity and willingness to work despite challenges.

We are forever grateful with each and everyone of the individuals, organizations, authorities and United Nations entities that have participated in this one-year journey as MY World Mexico. We could not have done this without out you. We hope to continue to work together for another year of great efforts!

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c) MY World 2030 México – UN SDG Action Campaign. MY World volunteers

To know more about MY World 2030 : myworld2030.org

The SDG Action Campaign recently issued a Global Call for Partners to take part in supporting the MYWorld 2030 survey on Wed 31 May 2017 at 10am EST: Join the MY World 2030 Partner Team

 

 

Security, justice, education and health rank as the most urgent issues for the people in Somalia

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

undp_Women_Lawenforcement

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.

security

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.  

Read the full report :
Somalia e-Survey NDP-SDGs

Want to take action? Register your interest to translate, distribute or even roll out the survey in your country here: http://myworld2030-citizenadvisor.nationbuilder.com

 

Women’s Economic Empowerment Citizen Survey Report

In January 2016, the UN Secretary-General launched the High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, created to provide thought leadership and mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world, therefore contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The High-Level Panel committed to launching a report and action plan by the September 2016 UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting. This report harnessed the best ideas and insights collected during the current evidence gathering and global consultation period to put forward an ambitious vision which will motivate and persuade global decision makers to create a cohesive strategy for implementing the targets and goals around women’s economic empowerment in Agenda 2030. Throughout this journey, there was a requirement to engage with organizations, NGOs, the rural and urban poor, young people and civil society so they are part of a conversation that builds momentum, buzz and political will for this ambitious agenda for women’s economic empowerment.

The creation of this citizen survey instrument at http://empowerwomen.myworld2030.org and the SMS version in partnership with U-report was to help meet this challenge and to engage people all over the world, especially women, to better understand their subjective experiences and views about priority areas needing attention to ensure women’s full economic inclusion and empowerment. The findings of the citizen survey were shared with the High-Level Panel for their consideration in the run up to UNGA 2016. This final report draws on the correlations between the citizen survey findings and the report published by the HLP in September 2016.

VIEW REPORT

Youth Entrepreneurs take center stage with Road to Nairobi 2016 Project at GPEDC

At the end of November, a diverse group of stakeholders met in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss critical issues at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation’s second High Level Meeting. Building upon months of grass roots organization in the lead up, Building Bridges Foundation, with partners UN SDG Action Campaign and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ensured the ideas and opinions of young people had a special role at the conference.

For young people, by young people, the project highlighted the entrepreneurial solutions of 80 young entrepreneurs in eight countries. Their stories were shared on the Humans of MY World blog, in blog posts, in exhibitions, and in a final report that was presented to important delegates at the HLM2.

The project, Road to Nairobi 2016 has empowered young entrepreneurs across Eastern and Southern Africa to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas for local solutions to tackling the SDGs. The Building Bridges team departed South Africa in August with the mission of revealing the challenges and priorities of young entrepreneurs in eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The team named a national Building Bridges Ambassador in each country who supported the local coordination on the ground. This included an open call for submissions of ongoing business solutions to addressing the SDGs in both rural and urban settings. The best were chosen to first compete to become the national winner in their country, and then were flown to Nairobi to compete in the global competition. The journey also included national youth forums with policy makers to discuss the results, where MY World 2015 results helped frame the discussions.

The youth entrepreneur’s stories were profiled on the Humans of MY World photo-narrative blog along with an identification of their most important SDG. Banners were printed for an exhibition at the conference, which also included UNVR demonstrations, selfie booths, Humans of MY World voting, previews of the publications created to support the project, the actual bus which was driven across the continent, and the ability to interact with the young people involved in the project.

Two side events were organized around the Building Bridges project. Firstly, the team presented the preliminary findings of an in-depth evaluation report of the project to Ms. Liliane Ploumen, co-Chair of the GPEDC and Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, who stressed the need to include young people in the decision making process:  “Too often we talk about young people without having them in the room.”

Ms. Sicily Kariuki, the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs of the Republic of Kenya stated “We must invest in youth so that they attain skills and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship.”

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The team also presented a draft of their report of the Humans of MY World – the storytelling project done in collaboration with the SDG Action Campaign. Mr. Seing Falu Njie, Regional Director for Africa, reinforced the UN SDG Action Campaign’s commitment to facilitating and ensuring people around the world have a means to voice their opinion through their diversity of projects, such as MY World 2030 and partnerships.

The second event presented the opportunity for 3 of the young Building Bridges ambassadors and others from the region to compete in the “Get In the Ring Competition,” occurring in Africa for the first time. The event mimics a boxing match, placing two competitors in the ring for lightning elimination pitch rounds until one is crowned champion. Unfortunately, the Building Bridges representatives didn’t get the gold this time, but it was a revealing lesson about capacity building with young entrepreneurs from the region for the next project.

The final report about the project will be released at the Global Festival of Ideas in March, 2017.

 

Malawi's Future is in the Hands of the Youth Entrepreneurs

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-5-34-34-pmMalawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its economy is worsening. Malawians are struggling to earn enough money to feed their families and two years of poor harvests means that people are hungry. There’s no welfare state, so earning a living is vital for survival.

To make matters worse, Malawi also faces a serious youth unemployment crisis and the highest working poverty rate in the world. According to a report of the National Statistical Office and ILO, in 2013 only 11.3% of the working population was in formal employment, and the figures for those under 35 are worse.

A large part of the population is left to fend for themselves with over 54% being self-employed. But what are the lived realities? The Building Bridges Foundation team discovered on the road in Malawi that there is hope for the landlocked “Warm Heart of Africa”.

The Road to Nairobi 2016 bus traveled around Malawi to meet 10 youth entrepreneurs working in a range of sectors in order to learn from their challenges and to get a better understanding of their experiences as entrepreneurs in one of the world’s most disadvantaged countries.

We met youth involved in fashion, improved seeds generation, water pipe construction and much more. These entrepreneurs proved to be change makers in Malawi who are not just creating employment for themselves, but also for others despite all the challenges they face.

Extensive power cuts, little education, corruption, lack of access to funding as well as scarcity of incubators and mentorship programs all hinder growth and sustainability. In the MY World survey, young Malawians expressed that education, healthcare, better job opportunities, affordable and nutritious food and access to clean water and sanitation are their top five concerns. The Malawian youth entrepreneurs we met were not only concerned with earning their own living, but especially with changing society and Malawi’s situation.

myworld

“My vision is to give a future to those most in doubt and nurture them so that they do not merely become another statistic of African hardship and suffering,” said 15-year old Tawile. She expresses her feelings and hopes for the future through fashion and aims to unite Africa.

Other entrepreneurs are focusing on the challenges faced by Malawian girls such as child marriage, lack of education and sexual abuse. “Women are nurturing and can use that ability to take care of the economic situation in their home, community and country. They need to be empowered and inspired.”

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“The future of each and every nation is in the youth and entrepreneurship is the best way to go,” said Alexious. Young Malawian entrepreneurs should be empowered and supported as they are providing solutions for the country. To ensure youth are not discouraged and continue to change their circumstances, it’s important to understand the lived experiences. The Road to Nairobi team spoke to youth entrepreneurs in Malawi and asked what changes they would like to see:

  • Tadala T: Provide resources, information and opportunities on a merit basis, not because of who you know or what political affiliations you have.
  • Dumisani: Change the mindset of young people and the syndrome of dependency.
  • Ahmed: There needs to a better information system accessible everywhere where people can find all information related to entrepreneurship.
  • Alexious: Entrepreneurship should be part of the curriculum. It should be supported so that the youth are empowered.

Author: Charles Lipenga (Youth Ambassador Road to Nairobi project). Edited by: Annemarelle van Schayik (Research Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation) & Samantha Ndiwalana (Project Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation)

All aboard the Peace Boat! Guests champion the SDGs during the "Floating Festival for Sustainability"!

img_0959 img_0958On Thursday, October 20, over 600 people attended a grand exhibit aboard the Peace Boat. This “Floating Festival for Sustainability” marked the Peace Boat’s 92nd Global Voyage for Peace since the nonprofit was established in 1983, and the first time the ship has docked in New York in five years. It also marked the inauguration of the Global Goals logo on the boat.

The SDG Action Campaign has a long history of working with the Peace Boat, having launched a partnership in 2009 to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Peace Boat previously hosted the Millennium Campaign logo, gave courses on the MDGs to passengers, and participated in the Stand Up Campaign among other activities. The Peace Boat has also been an early adopter of the MY World 2030 survey, helping to translate the ballot into Japanese, and collecting ballots both from passengers and people they meet during their journey. They presented the results of their first efforts in their recent report about the ship’s visit to Latin America – showing the enormous efforts and impact the boat is able to make on supporting the implementation of the SDGs.

The event occurred aboard the Peace Boat, providing guests with an intimate glimpse of life at sea. When guests first arrived, they were greeted with a tour of Peace Boat’s impressive ship. The foyer of the ship allowed guests to engage with the mission of the Peace Boat and with an exhibition of projects the peace boat is aligned with. Peace Boat, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, campaigns for the Sustainable Development Goals as it tours the globe each year. The UN SDG Action Campaign was present to drum up excitement about the SDGs and give participants the ability to engage with immersive content. Participants could take the MY World survey to voice their opinion on the importance and progress of the SDGs, take selfies highlighting their favorite SDGs and watch the virtual reality films of stories from around the world.

The World We Want team was also present, inviting guests to learn about their activities and to join the Policy Strategy Group. The World We Want is looking to continue doing WWW exhibitions around the world to promote the SDGs and civil society’s participation in UN activities. Other exhibits included the presentation of the Eco Ship, an entirely sustainable ship fueled by renewable energy sources that will retrieve the mission of the Peace Boat and promote climate action world-wide when in launches in 2020.

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The main event of the evening began with live music and dance, followed by a series of speakers including H.E. Jan Eliasson (United Nations Deputy Secretary-General), H.E. Ahmed Sareer (Ambassador of the Maldives and Chairman of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS)), Jeff Brez (Chief NGO Relations Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information), Yoshioka Tatsuya (Peace Boat Director) and Cora Weiss of the (President, Hague Appeal for Peace). The presentations were followed by an eco fashion show highlighting sustainable designs, and the SDGs chosen to be of highest import to each of the designers.

The presenters made appealing calls to action for all guests to get involved with the SDGs and in promoting peace. The Mr. Eliasson stressed the need to join forces and approach the SDGs in a collaborative manner, encouraging everyone to not be phased by the large task at hand, but rather to focus on small actions that add up: “nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something”. He stressed the need to empower and create space for youth and women as major actors in the fight for peace.

Mr. Tatsuya gave an energetic presentation about the new ship the Peace Boat is developing, which will soon be the most sustainable ship to ever set sail. It will include an on-board university for peace & sustainability, sport activities, and volunteer exchanges in local communities visited.

The evening also included a passionate appeal from a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing as part of a special partnership with the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security (UNODA). Five victims of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, known as Hibakusha, are traveling with the Peace Boat to campaign against nuclear weapons, hoping to see a world without them in their lifetimes.

For more information on the Peace Boat, please visit: http://www.peaceboat-us.org/  

Building Bridges Road to Nairobi meets youth entrepreneurs across South Africa

The Building Bridges Foundation has completed traveling through South Africa, its first country on the Road to Nairobi. With its mission to foster youth-led solutions at the grassroots level in order to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the team met with over a hundred youth entrepreneurs across the country. The Foundation’s seeks to learn from grassroots youth entrepreneurs to to understand their day-to-day challenges and how these entrepreneurs have thus far managed to overcome them. 

Samantha Ndiwalana, Building Bridges Project Manager, and Annemarelle van Schayik, Building Bridges Research Manager, report back on the team’s journey through South Africa.


IMG_20160906_142901.jpgThe Building Bridges core team in front of their bus

“African problems, need African solutions” – some South African youth have taken this approach to heart and are fighting for a better future every day. In South Africa there are more than 19 million young people between the ages of 15 and 34 (as defined by South Africa’s National Youth Policy), that is 42% of the population.

Strikingly, among the 9.8 million youth in South Africa’s labour force only 6.2 million were employed and more than 3.6 million youth were unemployed in 2015, with unemployment being especially high for those residing in rural areas. However, most people cannot afford to be unemployed due to the lack of significant safety nets and the responsibility to care for their families.

IMG_20160907_175928.jpgThe Building Bridges team visiting a young poultry farmer in Vredeford

Today’s South African youth were born in the last years of, or just after, Apartheid. Since then regardless of race, color or gender all youth should have the same access to resources and opportunities in theory. However, the lived reality is that black South Africans struggle more than white South Africans, not necessarily solely because of race, but also because of a different upbringing and exposure from a young age.

According to one black youth entrepreneur, “white people have more social capital. At home you can talk about having a business and your parents can introduce you to people who can help you. Most black people don’t have that.”

14053918_1766289320279392_1969452852959175315_o.jpgThe Building Bridges team meets the young entrepreneur behind Sisanda Energy Lab

The MY World global survey led by the UN SDG Action Campaign shows that in South Africa most people want “A good education”. In the past years, thousands of youth have gone onto the streets to stop university tuition fee increases and instead are demanding free education. In a country where many black South Africans are the first of their generation to enter university, keeping up with fees and other university expenses is a challenge. Many drop out before graduating due to “financial exclusion”. Still, a future without a university diploma is seen as one of insecurity and poverty.

South African youth’s priority is not only education, they are also concerned with being taught the skills that will enable them to succeed. “We don’t learn practical skills. There is no talk about running a business up till high school. How can we take care of ourselves?”, remarked one youth.

Youth who drop out of university or do not continue after high school should have learned skills to create a better life for themselves than their parents had. Youth are the future and they all should be given the tools to contribute to a better future for themselves, their communities and South Africa as a whole.

Entrepreneurial innovations should be encouraged from a young age. Schools play a fundamental role in this. A white-collar job is not the only path to success and wealth. As skills training goes underutilized, there are opportunities for individuals with, for example, artisan, technical, electronic or plumbing training. There are many self-employment opportunities in these fields. In fact, South Africa is in need of local entrepreneurs who can create sustainable businesses.

13975260_1765539727021018_91416547130337434_o.jpgThe team meets with youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein

South African youth have great potential to innovate, to change, to create solutions. Of course, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, but those who have the passion and the drive can potentially learn the skills. Their success is not just on the individual level. It carries through their communities and their nation as they employ other youth.

Youth entrepreneurs not only address issues of decent employment opportunities, but also other striking local problems. Youth are drivers of innovation. On their journey through South Africa the Building Bridges team met, among others, innovative youth who are working on hydroponic farming, an interactive, but informative game about energy and how to handle, a cheaper medical insurance solution for uninsured South Africans.

Youth entrepreneurs are the future. But before changes can be made, we need to understand what the lived experiences of South African youth are and what can be done to enable them to succeed.

IMG_20160907_175938.jpgA Building Bridges event with various youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga

Besides a pressing lack of business education from a young age and role models, many black youth entrepreneurs found the access to business registration lacking. We were told time after time that the decentralized government system is confusing and that the entrepreneurs wasted time being sent back and forth from office to office. Others were unemployed and had difficulty paying the needed business registration fees.

One youth entrepreneur stated, “there are a lot of young people who have ideas; they’re really strong ideas that are so powerful. The problem is, you are unemployed, but you’ve been told to open a bank account it is R500 (US$35.28), you’ve been told that to register a company it’s R400(US$28.22), your certificates that you needed, your BEE and your other certificates are quite expensive. And you are unemployed.”

Those that succeeded then found it difficult to get the startup capital needed. They were seen as risks by the banks and government funding was often unavailable for their type of business. However, besides lacking capital, many entrepreneurs also face negative feedback from their communities. Whole families depend on their income. Brothers’ tuition fees, sisters’ mobile data, and of course there needs to be food on the table. Working from 8 to 5 means a stable income and is the desired path by the wider community. All odds are against the young South African entrepreneur to succeed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 14.27.37.pngYouth entrepreneurs from South Africa

So what can be done? Building Bridges asked the youth entrepreneurs themselves. After all they are the experts:

  • Innocentia: “We need to change how things are run. The government offices should guide entrepreneurs. They should be people who are passionate, who care.”
  • Joyce: “The government can subsidize [registration costs]. It is expensive for an unemployed person to pay and there are a lot of procedures.”
  • Xola: “We need an entrepreneurial culture, a critical mass. We need more black entrepreneurial heroes. Youth need to be able to identify with people who are like them.”
  • Vusumuzi: “Banks can create a different loan system. They should invest in the youth.”
  • Major: “We need practical things when going to programs and incubators. The people presenting don’t understand what we go through. They are not entrepreneurs. We should learn from entrepreneurs.”