Kofi Annan was a visionary leader, a dedicated diplomat and a committed campaigner for peace, human rights and social justice. The UN SDG Action Campaign joins the United Nations family and the rest of the world in mourning the passing on of Mr Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General who died on the 18th of August, 2018.
Mr Annan worked tirelessly to ensure that the United Nations is about the people and together with Member States delivered the UN Millennium Declaration which gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
To his eternal credit, Mr Annan established the UN Millennium Campaign, the precursor of the SDG Action Campaign to mobilise the world around the MDGs and rally all people to a global movement of making poverty history. Today, the impact of the MDGs and the work of the Millennium Campaign have both gave the world a renewed vigour and commitment to ending poverty and inequalities and a planet befitting for present and future generations. This is evident in the adoption of the successor frameworks of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
Above all, in establishing the Millennium Campaign, Mr. Annan laid the foundation for giving people voices to participate in global and national processes that determine their future. The UN SDG Action Campaign has continued in this light in our work and partnerships across the world.
On his departure, we celebrate the life of a leader, a reformer and a Campaigner. We believe that the best way to immortalise the life and work of Mr. Annan is in promoting the ideals for which he lived and worked for – a world without poverty and injustice. The UN SDG Action Campaign will always be inspired by his vision to continue to work with our partners all over the world to build a global movement that will facilitate the achievement of the SDGs by giving people voices to engage with this universal and transformative agenda.
Last weekend, young german photographers brought the Sustainable Development Goals to life to the over 20,000 visitors at the German Federal Government Open Day in Berlin.
Sustainable Consumption, mental health, unequal opportunities or renewal energy were some of the issues selected by young photographers to portray the need for action on the SDGs in their communities. The photo stories were selected among the imagery created by participants of the Young People Program. This initiative is run by CANON in collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign to train students in visual storytelling and photography to have impact on the issues that matter to them and to their communities whilst putting their views on the SDGs on the spotlight. World Press Photographers such as Daniel Etter, Pulitzer Prize in 2016, contributed to both the trainings and the selection processes. The exhibition is both compelling and beautiful and it conveys young people’s priorities within the SDGs.
“The SDGs will only be achieved if we all contribute our part. Through this program, the UN SDG Action Campaign gives young people a voice and an opportunity to get involved in their communities and contribute to create a better world for all.” says Marina Ponti, Head of the Global Campaign Center of the UN SDG Action Campaign
The Young People Program exhibit was part of a number of SDG related activities at the open doors day, bringing the SDGs at the center of the German Chancellery and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) open spaces.
The Open Days of the German government in Berlin this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of German unification. And in regard to the German strive for Sustainability, there was a strong focus on the SDGs. Visitors had the opportunity to look behind the scenes and meet high-profile leaders such as the Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, or Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks, participate in workshops and activities, and gain an insight into how the German Government operates.
The Young People Program photo exhibition can be seen in the Berlin and Cologne Central Stations in September as part of the program of IFA and Photokina, international photography gatherings.
The United Nations SDG Action Campaign is proud to be part of the growing United Nations family in Bonn, Germany.
The UN is currently represented in Bonn with about 20 organizations. UN Bonn supports targeted efforts by governments for a sustainable future in the fields of climate change, land degradation, biodiversity and ecosystem services, wildlife conservation, volunteerism, health, human security, disaster risk reduction, tourism, as well as education and training.
This not only includes the sustainable use of natural resources and their precautionary preservation for future generations, but also the global fight against poverty.
The United Nations has had offices in Bonn since 1951. In 2006, the UN Campus was officially inaugurated by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the “Langer Eugen” as the main building.
The UN presence in Bonn has grown steadily, from a handful of staff in 1996 to what has become a UN family with an international staff of almost 1,000 colleagues. Furthermore, the United Nations are represented in Germany with institutions and liaison offices in Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
Almost 300 university and tertiary-level students had the opportunity to experience a first-hand interaction with the UN SDG Action Campaign last Saturday, the 20th of January, at the first Internship Fair at the German Foreign Office premises in Bonn.
Apart from receiving information on internship opportunities at UN agencies, they built up their knowledge about the SDGs and learned about several ways to engage, such as answering the My World 2030 survey.
The fair brought together 25 international organizations and EU institutions in the region, including several UN organizations such as United Nations Regional Information Centre, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Health Organization and International Organization for Migration.
The region of Bonn is considered a sustainability cluster since it gathers several global players and around 150 NGOs working in the fields of development co-operation, peacekeeping, renewable energies, and sustainable resources management.
Rising up to the challenge of leaving no one’s voice behind, the network of volunteers Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) has officially launched the MY World 2030 UN Global Survey on the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) online across all 36 CSAYN countries globally.
As a post-launch, some CSAYN countries have launched the survey offline in Central Africa (Yaoundé, Cameroon), East Africa (Zanzibar, Tanzania) and Europe (Bonn, Germany) for now while waiting on other regions to join efforts.
Based in Cameroon, CSAYN links volunteers with a strong interest in climate-smart agriculture and environment around the world. Climate-smart agriculture can contribute not only to achieve SDG #2, focused on ending hunger, but also relates to ending poverty (SDG #1), sustainable management of water (SDG #6), sustainable economic growth (SDG #8) and action to combat climate change (SDG #13).
In Yaoundé, the offline survey was launched by CSAYN in the International Relations Institute of Cameroon. Attended by well over 300 students of diverse disciplines of international relations, the event was followed by discussions centered on how data collected from the survey can influence policy decisions in the United Nations, as well as resolve key challenges in Africa.
“Watching how participants took the survey with so much excitement, passion and a strong conviction that their votes could make sustainable development a reality has encouraged our work towards being ambassadors for the goals in every local community”, says CSAYN country coordinator Nche Tala Aghanwi.
Although many still continue unaware of the SDGs in Cameroon, particularly in rural communities, discussions made clear how important the goals are for people and the extent to which they cut across their daily experiences.
The MY World Survey has also started to make its way towards local rulers. “One of the most inspired persons I encountered was a traditional ruler who explained to me that this survey has served as an evaluation tool of his rule and the level of amelioration or deterioration of major social services in his village since he became the chief”, says Aghanwi.
In Tanzania, CSAYN has engaged a community of 170 smallholders in Zanzibar in the offline survey, motivated by the interest of rural youth and women in climate-smart agriculture. Members of the Tanzania CSAYN team have also discussed with Zanzibar local farmers how to improve the production of cassava by intercropping it with sweet potatoes or yams in order to increase food security, contributing towards achieving zero hunger by 2030.
In Bonn, Germany, the offline survey was launched in the margin of the Global Landscape Forum. A cross-section of 50 delegates took part in the survey and committed to become SDGs Advocates within their communities, institutions, organizations and countries.
The results of the survey collected by CSAYN will help feed into the UN’s and governments’ monitoring of progress on the SDGs, raising awareness of important issues and giving a “people’s perspective” from the ground, in real-time.
Take the MY World 2030 survey here and raise your voice too about what SDGs are most important to you!
Exemplary businesses, municipalities and research projects who are at the forefront of sustainability were celebrated last Friday as the winners of the 10th German Sustainability Award in Düsseldorf, Germany. SDG Advocate, Queen Mathilde of Belgium received this years’ honorary prize in the event, which also offered participants a multitude of experiences to connect with the sustainable development goals in the “SDG Hub”.
The SDG Hub was created in partnership with the German service for development initiatives Engagement Global.
On the first day of the prize, the Next Economy Award was presented to start-ups whose business models are oriented towards a green economy and overcoming social challenges. The winners were the producer of wooden T-shirts wijld, the telemedical care company DITG, the solution for basic optic care EinDollarBrille and Enerthing, the developer of a solar film that can replace disposable batteries. Some of the winning initiatives and nominees, such as the developer of ecological toilets Goldeimer, were at the SDG Hub to share which SDGs are of most importance to them – in their case, “Clean Water and Sanitation” took the podium.
On the second day, the German Sustainability Award recognized top achievements in ecological and social commitment in different areas, celebrating stakeholders that are striving for the best sustainable solutions in line with the SDGs. Deutsche Telekom was awarded as Germany’s most sustainable large company, while Hanover won the prize for the most sustainable city.
In the Award Ceremony, Queen Mathilde was honoured for her commitment to the SDGs and her contribution to improving the situation of disadvantaged young people since 2000 with the Queen Mathilde Fund. Her Majesty also supports several organizations such as UNICEF, WHO and Child Focus.
Queen Mathilde underscored that businesses, governments, civil society and individuals must work together to achieve the SDGs. Photo: Dariusz Misztal
“To achieve sustainable development, governments, businesses, civil society and individuals must work together: each of us has a role to play at their own level towards realizing this ambitious, but achievable goals. Even small-scale projects and individual acts can contribute to changing lives for the better”, said Her Majesty.
She celebrated the fact that awareness of the need for sustainable development is growing in Belgium, Germany and all over the world. Yet, she reminded that there is no room for complacency, since there are areas in the planet where poverty is increasing and even affluent societies have not yet completely eradicated inequality.
British primatologist and campaigner for environmental and wildlife conservation Jane Goodall, who was present at the SDG Hub, encouraged particularly young people to take action and not to lose hope. “We have to fight to live sustainably before it’s too late”, she affirmed.
The founder of the German Sustainability Award Stefan Schulze-Hausmann and singer Annie Lennox. Photo: Ralf Rühmeier
Annie Lennox, activist and singer of the famous hit of the 80’s “Sweet Dreams”, performed on stage, where she also delivered a message of hope. “My sweet dream is a better world for all”, she said.
Experiencing the SDGs
By diving in immersive storytelling provided by United Nations Virtual Reality, visitors of the SDG Hub could see life through the eyes of a refugee or learn what it is like to be a survivor of Ebola. Many expressed the feeling that virtual reality can play an important role in connecting people emotionally to each other and foster cooperation to implement the SDGs.
Participants were also able to take the MY World 2030 survey, which allowed them to make their voices heard about which goals they consider more relevant for their lives and to explore their personal relationship with the SDGs.
All in all, entrepreneurs, government representatives and individuals had the opportunity to experience how the SDGs provide a framework to all sustainable development efforts worldwide, including those celebrated in the German Sustainability Award.
Watch Queen Mathilde’s speech:
Relevant personalities, government officials, business CEOs, activists and young entrepreneurs passed by the SDG Hub and shared a common vision of how we need to better communicate and engage everyone to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals. Take a look:
Minister President of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, visits the SDG Hub
British primatologist Jane Goodall delivered a message of hope to young people at the event
Members of the green businesses association UnternehmensGrün celebrate their partnership
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.
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.
Media is playing a major role in challenging the narrative about progress in the developing countries and shining the spotlight to the people who are often left out of the conversation. Is the UN is providing the tools, information and resources available to make sure journalists can succeed in their missions? Are media professionals aware that these tools exist?
For the 10th year, around 2,0000 journalists, media professionals, communications experts, politicians and civil society representatives from 130 countries gathered for the Global Media Forum in Bonn. This year the forum, focused on identity and diversity, hosted key international speakers such as the entrepreneur and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, to discuss the innovations of the digital world, artificial intelligence and journalism, the threat to values that populism represents, the role of the media, as well as international politics, human rights and innovative journalism concepts.
The UN SDG Action Campaign invited participants to experiment with the existing tools for communicating the SDGs and to participate in the creation of new ones: A hands-on session focused on engaging ways to shift the spotlight to those left further behind and mobilise everyone to take action for the SDGs.
A hands-on session focused on engaging ways to shift the spotlight to those left further behind and mobilise everyone to take action for the SDGs. The participants discovered the MY World 2030 survey, the stories behind the data, youth-led solutions and the power of a single story from the Building Bridges Foundation. How do we engage those millions left further behind in the conversation? How do we make people shift from observers to doers?
In our interactive SDG Space the participants had the opportunity to fully immerse in refugee realities, the life of an Ebola survivor or the struggle of a mother after losing a son to a bombing in the Gaza strip. The MY World 2030 Survey generated great interest and expectation and a number of representatives participated in the survey.
Congratulations to all participants and organisers for bringing together great ideas, new approaches and generate active discussions around key issues, we are sure will ignite positive actions in the near future.
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?