Half a million people in every corner of the world mobilizing to #act4SDGs at the UN General Assembly

On 25 Sept half a million people will mobilize on the Global Day to #act4SDGS in over 900 cities in 129 countries in actions led by over 1200 individuals and organisations in a worldwide mass mobilization for the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Mangrove restoration in Brazil, top chefs competing to re-discover forgotten foods in New York, or beach clean ups in the Maldives are some of the SDG actions organisations and individuals are organising on 25 September, encouraging a global movement for the achievement of the SDGs.

The Global Day to #act4SDGs coincides with the opening of the UN General Assembly, presenting a unique opportunity to amplify the actions being taken across the world and bring them to the attention of world leaders. A live event on the Global Day – Tuesday 25 September – from 1 to 2pm EDT at the SDG Media Zone at the UN Headquarters will bridge these local actions with global conversations through live interventions from key actors, partners and stakeholders gathered in New York. 

The event can be watched LIVE at http://act4sdgs.org 

Speakers: 

  • Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations via video message
  • HE Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, via video message
  • Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice President of the EU Commission via video message
  • Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
  • Mitchell Toomey, Director, UN SDG Action Campaign
  • Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda of Spain
  • Oli Henman, Global Coordinator, Action for Sustainable Development

Introducing:

PROGRAMME:

  • Welcome and Introduction to the Global Day to Act4SDGs
    Mitchell Toomey, Director, United Nations SDG Action Campaign
  • Taking Engagement Forward
    Video message from Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice President of the EU Commission
  • Global Day as it happens
    Moderator – Yusuf Omar, Founder of Hashtag Our Stories
  • Cleaning up polluted beaches and building cultural bridges in the Maldives
    Where: Malé, Maldives,
    By: Peace Boat, JCI Kaafu
    Presented by Yoskihoka Tatsuya, Co-Founder and Director, Peace Boat
  • 450 SDG Changemakers turn ideas into daily practice in Amsterdam
    Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    By: SDG Charter, KIT Royal Tropical Institute, Municipality of Amsterdam and NCDO
    Presented by Jilt Van Schayik, UN SDG Action Campaign and former Dutch Youth Delegate
  • Climate question from Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary
  • 200 organisations in Italy join forces to viralize sustainable development
    Where: Italy
    By Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS)
    Video
  • Empowering Youth to tackle Health and Peace through Creativity
    Where: Nigeria
    By: Creative Youth, Covenant University
    Presented by Foluke Michael from Creative Youth Development Initiative and UN SDG Action Award Winner
  • World’s Largest Photo Book to capture youth stories from Nigeria’s Informal Settlements
    Where: Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria
    Canon, Slum- Art Project
    Video
  • Reducing Carbon Emissions through Mangrove Restoration in Rio
    Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    By: Instituto Mar Urbano, UNDP RIO+Centre
    Video
  • Top chefs compete to highlight forgotten foods
    Where: New York City, United States
    By: Food Forever Experience NYC, Crop Trust
    Presented by Erik Oberholtzer, Chef and Founder of Tender Greens
  • Government, civil society and local fisherfolk join forces to tackling ocean pollution
    Where: Philippines
    By: GCAP Philippines
    Presented by Becky Malay, GCAP Philippines on Video
  • 26 youth advocates capture citizens views on the SDGs in Asia
    Where: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam
    By: ASEAN MY World 2030 Initiative, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and UNV Asia-Pacific
    Video
  • Building spaces for Orphans to Play
    Where: Morocco
    By: Bloom Charity
    Video
  • Hashtag Our Stories
    Yusuf Omar, Founder
  • Guatemalan students from indigenous communities show that big SDG changes can come in small sizes
    Where: Guatemala city
    By: Education for Sharing
    Video
  • Week of Action for SDGs Brings people together across Mexico
    Where: México
    By: MY World México
    Presented by Karol Arambula, Founder, MYWorld Mexico
  • 200 Youth Discuss citizen engagement and open democracies in Peru
    Where: Lima, Perú
    By: Millennials Movement
    Video
  • Young people share their SDG 360° videos from Brazil, Kenya, Germany & the United States
    By: Digital Promise, Oculus, MY World 360
    Presented by Dimitri Moore, Digital Promise and Christina Jackson, Oculus
  • Promoting fair food and fashion in Bonn
    Where: Bonn, Germany
    By: City of Bonn
    Video
  • Good Life Goals find sustainable development actions for everyone to take
    Where: Worldwide
    By: Futerra
    Presented by Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder, Futerra
  • From Local to Global Action
    Oli Henman, Global Coordinator, Action for Sustainable Development
  • Young Leaders for the SDGs: powered by the Office of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth
    Ezequiel Vedana Da Rosa (Brazil)
    Amelie Jezabel Mariage (Spain)
  • Video message from HE Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
  • The Way Ahead
    Cristina Gallach
    High Commissioner for Agenda 2030, Government of Spain
  • Thank you for taking action
    Video message from Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary General

Every year on the September 25th anniversary of the SDGs, the UN SDG Action Campaign joins forces with Action for Sustainable Development, GCAP and thousands of partners to mobilize the UN, national and local governments, youth groups, civil-society organizations, the media, and institutions from every corner of the world with a global call to Act for the SDGs.

Learn about this and other thousands of actions taking place across the world on 25 September and join the movement.

The event can be watched LIVE at http://act4sdgs.org 

Or follow the SDG Action live on #Act4SDGS,

Follow us and #Act4SDGs on:

Twitter: @SDGAction Facebook: @SDGAction Instagram: @SDGAction 

 

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.

Young photographers bring their SDG stories to life at the German Federal Government Open Day

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.

Know more about the Young People Program

 

 

Countries embrace efforts to achieve SDGs amid mounting global challenges: 2018 SDGs Report

New York, 20 June – A fast-changing climate, conflict, inequality, persistent pockets of poverty and hunger and rapid urbanization are challenging countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a UN report launched in New York today.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 found that conflict and climate change were major contributing factors leading to growing numbers of people facing hunger and forced displacement, as well as curtailing progress towards universal access to basic water and sanitation services.

For the first time in more than a decade, there are now approximately 38 million more hungry people in the world, rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. According to the report, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries. In 2017, the world experienced the costliest North Atlantic hurricane season on record, driving the global economic losses attributed to the disasters to over $300 billion.

At the same time, the Report found that more people are leading better lives than they were just a decade ago. The proportion of the world’s workers living with their families on less than 1.90 per person a day declined significantly over the past two decades, falling from 26.9 per cent in 2000 to 9.2 per cent in 2017.

The under-five mortality rate dropped by almost 50 per cent and in the least developed countries, the proportion of population with access to electricity has more than doubled between 2000 and 2016. However, in 2015, 2.3 billion people still lacked even a basic level of sanitation service and 892 million people continued to practice open defecation. In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria compared to 210 million cases in 2013 and close to 4 billion people were left without social protection in 2016.

The SDG Report presents an overview of progress toward achieving the Goals, which were unanimously adopted by countries in 2015.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said “Transitioning towards more sustainable and resilient societies also requires an integrated approach that recognizes that these challenges—and their solutions—are interrelated.

As the global community moves forward to achieve the SDGs and address existing challenges, reliable, timely, accessible and disaggregated data is critically needed. This requires technology and innovation, increased resources and political commitment to build strong data and statistical systems in all countries.

Other findings of the Report include:

  • Rates of child marriage have continued to decline around the world. In Southern Asia, a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by over 40 per cent between 2000 and 2017.
  • Nine out of 10 people living in cities breathe polluted air.
  • In 2016, the absolute number of people living without electricity dropped below the symbolic threshold of one billion.
  • Land degradation threatens the livelihoods of over one billion people.

See report overview.

More information on the Report may be found at https://unstats.un.org/sdgs

Spread your Goals and flap your wings for the #SDGs! A campaign launched in Germany invites citizens to have a say on the #SDGs

One small flap of your wings can make a huge difference for a better world!  #SpreadYourGoals2030

The UN SDG Action Campaign and media company Weischer Media have launched today the Spread Your Goals campaign, combining Augmented Reality, outdoors, cinema, mobile, and social media. By using the mobile app Shazam’s new AR feature, everybody can learn about the SDGs and spread their wings to advocate for sustainable development.

It’s simple to participate:

1) Download the app Shazam

2) Click on the camera icon

3) Scan the orange code in the image below

4) Take your photo and start sharing with the hashtag #SpreadYourGoals2030!

The wings are shown in the app as moving stickers and the photos can be shared directly from the app to social media. For a special WOW effect, you can also make the wings flap!

Curious about what each wing portraits? Click on each of the goals and read more about the SDGs, and tell the world which SDGs you are most passionate about via  MY World 2030 . MY World is a global citizen survey to bring people’s voices into official debates about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Almost 10 million people from 194 countries have shared their views on MY World.

Additionally, billboards have been placed in six German cities, showing wings with elements from all 17 Goals and carrying the Shazam Code to enter the Augmented Reality experience. One of these billboards will be on display at the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development.

Which goals do you want to spread? Let people know and start soaring to new heights!

 

Shaping a sustainable future with the UN in Bonn

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.

Learn more about the UN in Bonn here:

Brochure in English

Brochure in German

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.

For more, visit the UN Bonn website.

The United Nations launches hacking challenge to bring Nigerian voices to decision-makers

Hackathon to be held from 5-7 February 2018 will award 1 million naira to winner team

BONN, Germany, January 31st, 2018 – The United Nations SDG Action Campaign, in collaboration with Civic Innovation Lab, is calling on Nigeria’s best software skills to contribute to citizens’ engagement with the SDGs and bring the voices of Nigerians to the Government and the United Nations.

 “The SDGs are a new way of thinking and doing. They provide guidelines for how we can, and need, to do things more creatively, more effectively, and more inclusively. Nigerian developers and the innovation community have invested in helping their communities thrive and we want to provide the opportunity to transfer this innovative thinking into action for good, to solve the most important problems that we are facing right now. It is very exciting to bring this program to Nigeria for the first time, and we are convinced the results will have a tremendous impact locally and globally,” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

A hackathon to be held from 5-7 February 2018 in Abuja will bring together top innovative minds to design a tool, app or system to enable a more efficient roll out of the MY World survey across the country.

MY World is the UN survey that educates and mobilizes citizens on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and allows them to share their perception of progress made in their countries and regions on those goals of most immediate concern to them in the past 12 months. Through this data collection, the UN aims to create space for every citizen in the world to participate in the discussions and send strong messages to world leaders on what needs to be done to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

“Nigeria is fully committed to faithfully implementing the SDGs and ensuring that no Nigerian is left behind. In spite of the current economic realities, Nigeria has continued to commit funds to the SDGs to devise effective means of ensuring the SDGs are promoted and owned by peoples of the world”, affirmed Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Presidential Adviser on the SDGs, Government of Nigeria.

The winner of the hackathon will receive One Million Naira and a 3 months’ Community membership at the Civic Innovation Lab to develop the tool that will be used in the roll out of the survey across Nigeria and around the world. Participants can apply through the online application, open until February 1st, 2018.

“Engaging social innovators in tech to take action for the SDGs is key to achieving these Goals. Our collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign will enable the Nigerian community of designers, social innovators and entrepreneurs to collaborate effectively in addressing the country’s needs and join the global community of change-makers who are tackling the world’s biggest challenges”, said Adaeze Sokan, Director, Civic Innovation Lab.

ABOUT THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN

The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN-Secretary General, administered by the UNDP to create awareness about the 2030 Agenda, empower and inspire people across the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while generating political will, and help make the Goals attainable by 2030.

http://sdgactioncampaign.org/

ABOUT MY WORLD 2030

MY World is the UN survey that asks citizens if they are aware of the Sustainable Development Goals, which six of the 17 Global Goals are of immediate concern to them and if the situation of these has got better, stayed the same or got worse over the past 12 months.

https://myworld2030.org/

ABOUT OSSAP-SDGS

The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs) was established by the President of Nigeria with a mandate to coordinate national mobilisation, integration, implementation and reporting of the SDGs across levels of government. It also has the mandate to promote partnership and mobilise resources for the SDGs, working with multi-stakeholders including the private sector, civil society and international development partners. In 2017, the OSSAP-SDGs entered into a multi-year partnership agreement with the United Nations SDG Action Campaign.

http://sdgs.gov.ng/

ABOUT CIVIC INNOVATION LAB

Civic Innovation Lab is a social innovation hub focused on harnessing Creativity, Innovation, and Technology to solve our most pressing civic and government issues. We support technology solutions that enhance efficiency and effectiveness in public sector institutions as well as quality of life.

http://civicilab.com/

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Marta Rojas| UN SDG Action Campaign | marta.rojas@undp.org

Priscila Jordão| UN SDG Action Campaign  priscila@sdgactioncampaign.org

A new discovery tool for cutting-edge research on SDGs: the Sustainable Development Explorer

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are interconnected, and so is the work of United Nations University (UNU), which spans the full breadth of the SDGs.

About 400 UNU researchers are engaged in more than 180 projects to address complex global challenges, especially where different goals meet. To highlight which of those projects address each of the SDGs, UNU just launched a new tool that allows one to search its database of research, commentary, and multimedia: the Sustainable Development Explorer.

Available in English and in Japanese, the SD Explorer currently features 51 projects, 34 experts, 34 publications, and 50 expert articles, organised by SDG.

It offers visitors the opportunity to explore the “who” and “what” of UNU’s work, engage directly with UNU’s experts, and learn about how their ideas can play a significant role in promoting and supporting the SDGs.

To learn more about the SD Explorer, please visit: http://bit.ly/2FQrRwy.

UNLEASH searches 1,000 young talents to innovate for SDGs in Singapore

From May 30 to June 6, Singapore will be the host for UNLEASH 2018 and the second cohort of 1,000 young talents from all over the world, who will work on new, innovative and disruptive solutions to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Applications are open from January 15 – February 15, 2018.

The first UNLEASH took place in Denmark in August 2017. In November 2017, the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, handed over UNLEASH to the Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during an official visit.

“Denmark kick-started this great initiative, and there is no better partner than Singapore to take over. The global SDGs carry the ambition to bring the world we live in closer to the world in which we wish to live. Singapore is known for its foresight, drive, and ability to take action. By passing on the host country torch to Singapore, I am sure that UNLEASH will take yet another important step forward,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

The talents will learn from Singaporean private and public sector, who will inspire the talents for their process through the four-day innovation challenge. The talents are put in teams and will work on solutions within their field of expertise.

“We each have a valuable contribution to make to sustainable development. This gathering of young, creative and innovative minds will harness the power of human ingenuity, to create imaginative solutions that achieve the SDGs,” said Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

At the end of the innovation challenge, the solutions will be perfected and pitched in front of a panel of experts before UNLEASH culminates on June 6, when the final awards show takes place and thought leaders from all over the world will give keynotes to inspire the talents’ way forward. Here the best ideas are also awarded and given prizes to further support the implementation of their solutions.

Applications will be open from January 15 – February 15, 2018. For more information, please visit www.unleash.org.

Mitchell Toomey: “Youth power can lead the way towards the SDGs and the ambitions of countries all over the world”

Source: African Newspage/January 10, 2018

Mitchell Toomey is the global director of the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General administered by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), mandated to support the UN system-wide and the Member States on advocacy and public engagement in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

How important are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Africa, in terms of achieving sustainable development in the region?

I think the Sustainable Development Goals are everyone’s responsibility and Africa deserves to achieve the SDGs just like other regions deserve to do so; we had the MDGs and countries like Nigeria were an incredible success in rallying people around some specific goals.

Moreover, the SDGs represent a much more ambitious agenda; they are not just about people’s survival but actually about ensuring people thrive. So, Nigeria is an obvious leader in Africa and with such a large youth population and potential we want to make sure the SDGs work here so that Nigeria can lead other countries in Africa.

We are already 2 years into the implementation of the SDGs, how has Africa fared in terms of achieving the goals?

Well, I think every country is different, every country has their own development plans and one thing we have learnt is that you can’t just bring something new and expect everyone to enforce it immediately; already there is the Africa Agenda 2063, which is a very important agenda that came before the SDGs. So, we have to be humble enough to understand that people already have their own plans.

Two years on, we are very happy to see how governments have taken them very seriously; they have set up departments and commissions to make sure there is some accountability in the implementation of the SDGs. Many countries have come to New York to talk about their action plans and what they want to do. However, two years on we can say the goals are still in their very early days.

The next few years will really determine how much progress we will see in terms of implementation of the goals. So, in 2019 the heads of state of all countries will gather again in New York to review the progress we have achieved in 4 years – it will be an incredibly important period. Therefore, we are confident that by then many countries would have achieved some of the progress necessary for the success of the goals.

Two key sectors of the world’s population i.e women and youth are very vital to the success of global development frameworks like the SDGs. How do you think given women and youth the opportunity to key into the implementation of the Global Goals will aid the successful realization of the goals?

Well, one reason the youth are such a focus of the goals is that the youth themselves helped designed the goals; when we were deciding what the goals would be we challenged young people from around the world to help us decide what the goals would be and they responded in amazing ways: by telling us what was happening in their communities and hence what the goals should be.

As such, most of the goals are youth-centered which means the youth can relate to them; we make sure that the icons are very friendly and easy to understand so that even children can understand these goals.

The reason is we are in a period of tremendous change in the world and young people are the future; the ability to access information, find networks of people, and learn new things using digital tools are what matters. It is a much different world than it used to be and young people are the ones who understand it best so we need to follow their lead in making these goals a reality.

And women have always played a very critical role in society even though sometimes such a role is marginalized outside of the traditional economies but we believe by giving everyone in the society the opportunity to participate we will achieve explosive growth which will lead to development in all countries.

Agenda 2030 is a very ambitious development framework that hopes to change the face of the world particularly here in Africa, around gender, education, governance, and public health. Where do you hope to see Africa by the year 2030 in terms of achieving these goals?

It is hard to generalize for Africa as different countries are at different starting points; different countries are progressing in different ways. We have to be very honest that different countries will progress in different ways.

Imagine how much the world has changed in the last 15 years, imagine all the things we never dreamed we could do like standing here and having this conversation with you and getting it out on the internet for everyone to see, we just would not even have thought it would be possible. So, I think if anything the goals aren’t ambitious enough to match the ambitions of young people around the world.

This article is culled from African Newspage – a digital newspaper for development reporting. View the original piece on their website.