Back to basics: Going Beyond Online for SDG Advocacy

Written by Marikris de Guzman and Jose Mateo dela Cruz, MY World 2030 Advocates in the Philippines

In a world where selfies and the need to post on social media all the events that are happening real-time are the norms, how do we make people understand that what is important is not actually seen online? The advocacy for sustainable development boils down to people.

 One former Philippine president said to her successor then – It’s the economy, student! But what is the economy if it does not serve the people. We believe that the same is true for the global goals – the centrality of the goals boils down to the development of the people’s lives and their quality of living.

Secondary students from a public high school in Pangasinan participating in the MY World Survey by answering the printed forms

A crucial component of the programme is the ASEAN MY World 2030 survey, which was launched by the 10 Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ASEAN and UNDP Administrator at the opening of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2017. Through an online form, anyone can answer the survey and make their voice heard by the policymakers. An alternative to answering the online form is through a printed survey form. In addition to promoting the survey, advocates also conduct activities in their locality to promote awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and feature advocates to demonstrate their local actions.

To bring forth localization, we need to focus not just on theories but on the lived experiences of people. This is where MYWorld becomes relevant – the survey and the Humans of MYWorld features are attempting to get a glimpse of the realities of people and try to measure if the aspirations of the new development agenda have borne significant changes for their lives or not.

As part of our strategy to increase awareness of SDGs in the grassroots level, we have conducted the survey in provincial areas using printed forms to give more space for participation to people who are not easily connected to the internet in the north and south of the Philippines. We did this through tapping local networks from our social capital and mobilizing them to support the conduct of the survey.

For us advocates, we wanted to go beyond promoting the global goals online. We hope to help in generating discussions and developing solutions within our communities. We believe that the people need to be enlightened regarding the SDGs than to merely contemplate about these and appreciate the Global Goals through social media sharing or even posting the goals that mean strongly for you. We knew that what we were doing has inherent limitations. The awareness survey is just the first step in promoting the implementation of the goals. People and institutions alike should be informed about the global goals first. With awareness, we hope that this can spark actions from institutions and communities to build collaboration and partnerships toward localizing and achieving the global goals at the grassroots level.

With this,  the real power of MYWorld as a platform comes in – it is bringing back the discussion of these lofty and ideal goals to the people who demanded for sustainable development years ago. Features, campaign hypes, and communication strategies are being done to make people work for the goals but are we venerating the goals as an idea without understanding the real end game?

Secondary students from a public high school in Pangasinan participating in the MYWorld Survey by answering the printed forms

This year, we are privileged to be part of the ASEAN MY World 2030 Programme which aims to empower young changemakers in the ASEAN region to take upon a leadership role for both the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, led by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and the UN Volunteers Asia-Pacific. Selected youth advocates from the region will lead and carry out a series of advocacy activities in order to raise awareness about both agendas and increase citizen engagement to inspire concrete actions on the ground.

The challenge here is how to create a society recognizing individual aspirations but collectively working for these shared goals. This means going beyond the comfort of the online space and going to the communities and people where development is greatly aspired for. The battle to make the goals a reality is still ongoing. It will not just end in an online campaign rather it will be a long march from one community to another to educate, advocate, and work together for the global goals. It is a battle for uplifting the lives of more than 7 billion people and preparing this generation and the next to create a sustainable future- a planet that each person can say:  MYWorld – a world that we want!


Young Southeast Asians Unite in Singapore to Create Solutions to the SDGs

Designed to empower Southeast Asian youth to tackle regional sustainability issues, Young Sustainable Impact Southeast Asia (YSI SEA)’s 14 week-long Innovation Programme 2018 came to an end on 30 July 2018. The programme brought forward 24 participants from across 8 Southeast Asian countries to kickstart solutions for select United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) faced in their local communities.

 

YSI SEA team, YSI Global team and participants of the Innovation Programme 2018 at University Town, National University of Singapore

After a three-round selection process with 800 applicants, the Innovation Programme 2018 nurtured the 24 most promising participants to build 6 social impact startup teams focusing on the UN SDGs. The Innovation Programme 2018 consisted of two main components: the Online Innovation Programme and the Singapore Innovation Programme. The Online Innovation Programme was conducted on various virtual collaboration platforms. Over three months, participant teams were guided by expert mentors and YSI SEA’s curated course modules, from problem identification to developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for market validation.

YSI SEA then flew its participants down to Singapore on 19 July 2018 for the Singapore Innovation Programme. Over the next ten days, teams were able to accelerate their innovation process in each other’s physical presence. Five courses were conducted to prepare teams for pitching day and beyond. The participants also attended a workshop on the UN SDGs, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the platforms available to them to take actions for the UN SDGs.   

Pitching took place during the Singapore Sustainability Conference on 29 July 2018, to an invited group of angel and corporate investors, venture capitalists, accelerators and rotary members at the CDL Singapore Sustainability Academy.

The participants of the Singapore Innovation Week 2018 with Danat Tekie, Chief External Relations Officer, YSI Global during the Cultural Night

Leveraging on their diverse geographical and technical backgrounds, all six teams displayed their creative prowess in fashioning innovative solutions to the SDGS in the ASEAN region.

While Agrireach created the Reach Cube to tackle poor irrigation and drainage systems in agricultural fields in Philippines’, Allyasia developed an e-commerce platform to empower indigenous communities in Southeast Asia by reimagining their cultural heritage and to provide them with sustainable livelihoods. Gatewaste pitched a mobile application to optimise the recycling system in in Jakarta, by mobilising and empowering scavengers.

When asked about her thoughts on the Innovation Programme 2018, Sophia Enage, a participant of the Innovation Programme 2018 and co-founder of Mushroomable, said, “YSI SEA opened so many opportunities for learning and sharing wisdom as well as actualizing passions in life. In this whirlpool of experiences, learning and realizations, I want and will create sustainable and positive waves that the world will enjoy just like how YSI SEA made it possible for me.” Her startup idea aims to empower farmers to manage agricultural waste effectively, by utilizing rice by-products to grow mushrooms.

Sophia Enage, a participant of the Innovation Programme 2018 and co-founder of Mushroomable, pitching her idea during the Singapore Sustainable Conference 2018

The use of technology was apparent in the ideas generated by all the startups. With the goal of empowering healthcare providers in Philippines, Nutri-Alliance proposed an application that educates and supports healthcare providers, through access to digital information, education, and communication materials for healthcare and nutrition. Even Kembalikash, with the mission of educating Indonesian migrant workers f and their families in financial literacy, is working with industry leaders to provide an online payment and financial management platform.

Innovation Programme 2018 was a huge success, and the longevity of participants’ startup ideas for sustainable development will be seen to. These are made possible by a YSI SEA team which has worked tireless behind the scenes. “The whole YSI SEA team holds the SDGs closely to their hearts and their actions. We believe in the fundamental concept of leaving no one behind (and that includes mother nature) and the SDGs embody this concept perfectly”, said Sai Surya, the Managing Director of YSI SEA. “YSI SEA aims to empower these youth regardless of socio-economic backgrounds to solve the sustainable issues they are passionate about with a measurable impact. By creating impact-driven startups and impact-driven young leaders, we hope to push the SDGs and society forward,” he added.

YSI SEA team, YSI Global team and participants of the Innovation Programme 2018 at CDL Singapore Sustainability Academy

YSI SEA is one of the regional chapters of Young Sustainable Impact (YSI Global). YSI Global was started in Oslo, Norway by a group of youths passionate about bringing young people around the world together to tackle sustainability problems. They saw a lack of startups in the field of sustainable development aimed at alleviating bigger world problems, and decided to bridge the gap between idea generation and impact, as well as engage youth in sustainability and entrepreneurship.

When asked why YSI Global chose Singapore and Southeast Asia to work in the field of sustainable development, Marcus Bruns, Co-founder and CEO of YSI Global commented, “When YSI Global expanded to new regions, we based our decision on the people who applied to start locally. Not only were we lucky to have a great team in Singapore, we also have a youth population of 213 million in the ASEAN region, which makes it a great arena for sustainable innovation and community engagement.”

In addition to the Singapore Sustainability Conference, YSI SEA also organized the Singapore Sustainability Showcase on the same day. Graced by the Guest of Honour, Minister of Social and Family Development and Second Minister of National Development Desmond Lee, the showcase brought different NGOs, social entrepreneurs and corporations together to share on various sustainability initiatives and innovation in Singapore and the region. 

Minister Desmond Lee, the Minister of Social and Family Development and 2nd Minister of National Development in Singapore and Sai Surya, Managing Director of YSI SEA during the Singapore Sustainability Showcase

Ultimately when you talk about sustainability, it is how do we endear into each and every one of us that we are nothing more than mere custodians and stewards – that we take what we need today to meet the needs of ourselves, our families, our communities and our societies,” said the minister when delivering the opening address.

The 400 registered attendees of the Showcase were given electronic goodie bags. Among others, the goodie bags featured the ASEAN MY World Survey, which made it convenient for the attendees to take the Survey both during and after the Showcase. 

Since its inception in 2017, YSI SEA has received widespread support from organizations such as the Prime Minister’s Office Singapore, Temasek Foundation Ecosperity, World Vision Singapore and National Youth Council of Singapore. YSI Global has the network of 14,000 entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide united with the common goal of reaching the UN SDGs. By bringing together the energy of the youth around the world and by connecting them to private, national and global stakeholders, YSI Global and YSI SEA could create an ecosystem to solve some of the most crucial issues of the 21st century.

54 hours to take action for Sustainable Development Goals in Brunei

The opening of Startup Weekend Bruni Sustainable Development Goals took place on July 20th at the Progresif Cellular Headquarters in Gadong, Brunei.

The theme centered around the Sustainable Development Goals in which the teams’ startup ideas must incorporate at least one or more of the 17 SDGs.

With only 54 hours to put their idea into action, the teams were guided by mentors from a wide range of entrepreneurial backgrounds and the SDG mentor was Nurul Hadina Haji Alias, the ASEAN MY World 2030 Advocate for Brunei.

A team made up of entrepreneurs used their expertise and knowledge to create a workshop filled with challenging yet fun activities to bring participants out of their comfort zone. From learning how to pitch and make a business model canvas, to networking with students from different colleges and universities, whilst providing them with the tools to bridge gaps between trades, the whole event strives to expose the youth’s potential business idea and see those translated into ideas.

Nine teams consisting of youths from different higher institutions and non-government organizations presented their startup idea as the first step to #Act4SDGs in Brunei.

By identifying areas of concern and doing research on marketability, three teams were successful in hitting the judges’ criteria for customer validation, execution and design whilst being a feasible business model.

In the third place, was Tambang.bn for coming up with an idea for water taxi connectivity for Kampong Ayer.

In the second place, Pen of Hope who came up with a business idea for bamboo pens with vegetable seeds.

And the first place winner went to Trash 4 Recycle (T4R) whose business idea is to make an annual planer with recycled paper.

Afiq Mohammed, who is part of the organizing team, shared with us that “With Startup Weekend Brunei Sustainable Development Goals, it enabled more youths and leaders to create more solutions to problems that are not only faced in Brunei but also globally. We are hoping to see a lot of ideas emerge from the event that can leave a greater impact by providing support to those in need. Over 30 sustainable ideas were generated from 53 participants. Each idea was carefully refined and the teams were guided by mentors from diversified backgrounds and organizations.”

He concludes by saying “Although we introduced this platform through entrepreneurship, it allows the participants to see beyond making money but making a positive difference for others. It encourages them to be more aware of their surroundings and be more compassionate for others.”

We really hope to see more of these initiatives to support the youth and the generation now to take action for global goals.

ASEAN MY World 2030 advocates promote the Sustainable Development Goals

25 MY World Advocates have started their actions in Southeast Asia. Through the programme, these changemakers carry out various activities to raise awareness about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to increase citizens engagement and to inspire concrete actions on the ground.
We are excited to share some of our advocates’ actions which already took place.

Nadhilah Muhammad Razak – a Malaysian advocate has the passion for environmental education. She has visited various schools in Malaysia to give speeches on SDGs and to conduct ASEAN MY World survey. To promote SDGs and to make sure no one left behind, she is not only active in meeting with state government, local officers but also to meet with marginalized groups in rural villages.

Nadhilah promotes SDGs to students at Mat Jiwa Science Secondary School

Aung Ko Oo – a Myanmar university student who is based in Bangkok, Thailand has created his facebook’s page on SDGs. Through this page, he documents ‘Humans of MY World’, which shares stories of many young people in the region regarding their thoughts on SDGs.

One of the stories from Aung Ko Oo’s page

Nurul Hadina Haji Alias – a teacher at a local Sixth Form Centre in Brunei Darussalam loves to use her passion for life-long learning to help inspire and create positive change for individuals in the wider community. Raising awareness on SDGs for school students and providing SDGs knowledge through her Twitter and Instagram channels are one of her current activities.

Promoting SDGS at a school in Brunei Darussalam

Other advocates are doing well on their ways to bring ASEAN MY World survey to people in their countries through both online and offline voting. Giving school talks, organizing workshops and public discussions on SDGs are among some of activities in the upcoming months. The result of these activities will be presented to the government and relevant stakeholders at the end of the programme to contribute to create pressure and accountability for their commitments to deliver SDGs in the region.

Do you have passion for SDGs? Are you based in ASEAN region? Do you want to know more about our advocates and support their works? Then reach out to us via @SDGAction.

Meet the advocates!

Learn about the advocates and meet them in the video playlist:

Calling all SDG changemakers in Southeast Asia!

The ASEAN MY World Advocacy Programme is series of comprehensive advocacy activities led by the UN SDG Action Campaign and the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub across ASEAN countries aiming to advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote citizen engagement and data collection activities among young people in the region.

A group of 25 talented young ASEAN advocates will be selected to join the Advocacy Programme and will have the opportunity to work as MY World 2030 Advocates and become agents of change in their community, city, region and country.

Objectives

  • Raise awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Collect citizen data and input using the ASEAN MY World 2030 survey
  • Advocate for citizen engagement in the implementation of the SDGs

Responsibilities and tasks of ASEAN MY World Advocates

  1. Mobilise your community / city / region / country to start taking action for the Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Collect at least 500 ASEAN MY World 2030 votes and 5 Humans of MY World Stories in your community / city / region / country
  3. Organise a handover event with local / regional / national stakeholders – for instance on Global Day of Action September 25
  4. Document your activities: write blogs, take photos and be active on social media
  5. Lead right where you are!

Programme Benefits

  • Learning and training workshops
  • Receive a certificate of participation
  • Become part of the SDG Action Network
  • Develop real life experience with by becoming an advocate for the SDGs
  • Discover where your talent, passion, and the needs of the world intersect
  • Join a group of people challenging one another to make something awesome happen

Programme Duration

Four months: June – September 2018

Eligibility

In order to apply you need to match the following criteria:

  • You must be between 18 and 30 years old.
  • You must be a resident of ANY of the following ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam
  • You must be passionate about the Sustainable Development Goals and believe in a world where young people can shape their own future
  • You must possess good organizational skills and have the ability to work independently
  • You must be available and willing to work at least 6 – 8 hours a week for a period of four months

Extended Deadline for application: 22th May 2018

APPLY NOW