Winners of the first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards announced

The Awards Ceremony honored winners in seven categories during the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, highlighting transformative action for the SDGs around the world

March 21, 2018 (Bonn) – The winners of the first United Nations SDG Action Awards have been announced this Wednesday by the UN SDG Action Campaign, demonstrating the extraordinary momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in different corners of the earth.

See photos of the Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony was held in tandem with the second edition of the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, and honored initiatives in the categories of communicator, connector, includer, innovator, mobilizer, storyteller, and visualizer.

“These are ‘Action’ Awards because we need more than words: our winners dared to believe and act for change. They are perfect examples of the wonderful work that’s happening around the world led by thousands, if not millions, of people”, said Mitchell Toomey, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

The winning initiatives are fighting corruption in Nigeria, mobilizing Belgians to implement the SDGs in their daily lives, empowering children through photography and digital skills in Bangladesh, promoting human rights education in Sri Lanka and much more. Evidencing the multi-sectoral engagement to achieve the SDGs, the winners span over private and public sectors, as well as civil society and grassroots movements.

Over 700 nominations from 125 countries in 7 continents were submitted. An expert judging panel evaluated submissions against the degree to which actions were deemed to be transformative, inclusive and impactful.

In addition, an open vote was held on the website of the UN SDG Action Campaign where visitors could rate their favorite among the 38 finalists to win the People’s Choice Award.

“Great solutions for the world’s challenges can come from anywhere. We hope everyone is inspired by these stories and consider submitting their nominations for future Awards. These are the first winners of a community that will continue to grow”, said Toomey.


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. For more information, please visit


The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is the world´s annual event to celebrate, empower, and connect the global community driving Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organised by the UN SDG Action Campaign with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Festival connects an inspiring mix of business leaders, activists, UN representatives, academia, governments, innovators, global organisations, and the media from across the globe. Taking place in Bonn each year, the Festival provides a dynamic and interactive space to showcase the latest innovations, tools, and approaches to SDG action and connect organizations and individuals from different sectors and regions to exchange, build partnerships, and make the impact of their solutions scale.


Empowering advocates to implement SDG projects in their communities

Empowering advocates to implement SDG projects in their communities

The “SDGchallenge” is a global citizenship education project, which aims to raise awareness of the SDGs primarily in Ireland but also globally. The project equips people to take informed action on the goals and to contribute to sustainable change in communities. The SDGchallenge focuses on the non-formal learning sector, with many entry points in order to ensure easy and diverse levels of participation.

There are monthly workshops and discussions, monthly resource and information packs, and mentoring and coaching to SDG challenge participants to build national capacity through the advocate program. The project also utilizes creative methodologies such as music and film to engage the public more generally. The SDG Advocate program brings together 26 individuals from 26 communities in Ireland and then puts them through an intense 8-month program. Each of these advocates implement SDG projects in their communities.

For example, the Cork Advocate, Maria Dempsey is a true example of an active citizen who contributed hugely to the project and as a result has created change across Ireland in raising awareness of SDG 5 and SDG 16. Maria has dedicated her time to raising awareness of victims of homicide globally “Since taking part in the SDG Advocate Program I now have direction, coherence, motivation and feel positive that bringing together families of homicide and working towards positive change” (Dempsey, 2017).

They are currently recruiting the 2018 cohort of SDG Advocate participants in order to create change in communities across Ireland / Vietnam and Tanzania. They also have a national showcase event in Ireland in late February which brings together 300 people to raise awareness of the project and results. Future plans include expanding efforts in Ireland, then plans to expand to Vietnam and Tanzania. There is also an interest to replicate the project with likeminded organizations in other countries globally.

Who is behind this?

Stephanie Kirwan

For more information:


SDG Voices Campaign in 6 cities

The SDG Voices campaign, led by the City of Ghent, challenged cities in Belgium to encourage and mobilize Belgians to implement the SDGs in their daily lives. The campaign involved 23 different Ghent city services and departments. Nearly 6,000 citizens in 6 cities participated physically and many others took part via social media.

The SDG Voices campaign, led by the City of Ghent, challenged cities in Belgium to encourage and mobilize Belgians to implement the SDGs in their daily lives. The campaign involved 23 different Ghent city services and departments. Nearly 6,000 citizens in 6 cities participated physically and many others took part via social media.

The Ghent City Board designed a series of five concrete and competitive challenges for Ghent and 5 other cities, which each focused on SDGs 1-5: “Eat massively social” (SDG1.4), “Days without meat” (SDG2.4), “Everyone on the bike” (SDG3.9), “Class marathon” (SDG4a) and “Everybody feminist” (SDG5.5).

Nearly 6,000 citizens in 6 cities participated physically, many other people supported the challenges via social media (communicated through short movies, web-posts and campaign images) The campaign brought together stakeholders such as Ghent knowledge institutions, various NGOs, The Shift, Gent en Garde, Football Club KAA Gent. The campaign paved the way for new partnerships with organizations such as the Flemish Association of Cities and Municipalities, University and Academy Ghent, CSR Europe, etc and initiatives such as healthy cooking workshops, debates on sustainability at school, theatre performance on gender equality, summer cycling course for immigrant children, etc.

The campaign also resonated throughout networks, such as Eurocities, ESDN, ICLEI. The campaign is having a multiplier effect on more citizens’ and organizations’ familiarity with the SDGs. For example, the cooperation between businesses and schools will be continued. NGO Globelink started a project to implement the SDGs in Ghent with youngsters. The city administration integrated the SDGs in the preparation of the long-term city planning. Ghent University and Ghent Academy embraced the SDGs in their new policy strategy.

Who is behind this?

City of Ghent

For more information:



Tired of non-sense conversations with your colleagues at work? This is how the SDGs sneak in businesses

Tired of nonsense conversations with your colleagues at work? This is how the SDGs sneak into businesses

SDGs have introduced a new paradigm, overcoming the traditional North/South dichotomy and understanding the interrelation between economic, social and environmental issues. Today, for the first time, everyone is asked to contribute to SDGs, including civil society. Private sector has been reached and is already aligning its strategies with SDGs.

The first step to undertake is to spread awareness of the SDGs, their meaning and implications. #COMPANIES4SDGs copes with this challenge providing businesses with a campaign to involve and engage their employees in the SDGs. The new idea underlying this project is to reach people through companies’ regular internal communication channels. The campaign #COMPANIES4SDGs consists of three parts:

  1. An internal communication kit about SDGs to implement over 12 months;
  2. The promotion of volunteering activities aligned with the SDG of the month;
  3. An ambitious external communication strategy.

Until today, the project has been subscribed by 34 companies in Spain, representing approximately 500.000 employees. Globally, it has already been included in routine monthly communications, reaching 310.410 employees in 18 countries. Furthermore, some companies are sharing the project with more than 3.5 million clients and other stakeholders increasing the project’s potential impact. Moreover, one of the companies involved is from the mass media and is broadcasting a spot on radio and television.

From October 2017 to January 2018, a 20-second TV spot has already been seen by more than 25,000,000 people (59.9% of Spanish population). The radio add has reached more than 5,700,000 individuals; 14.42% of the Spanish population has listened to it 4.1 times on average. Up to 8,618 volunteers have been engaged in the achievement of SDGs number 1, 2, 3 and 4. They have invested more than 503,122 hours in 583 activities.

The team is currently working on expanding the project in two ways. On one hand, by engaging more companies and opening the project to academic and public institutions in order to dramatically increase the volume of population reached. For instance, the team has just presented #COMPANIES4SDGs to Barcelona and Madrid public transportation companies and they are submitting it to the Spanish public companies SDG task force. In addition the project plans to present a “year 2” package for its partners with new materials to increase awareness and promote further action to achieve the goals.

Who is behind this?

Benedetta Falletti di Villafalletto

For more information:


The People’s Summit / The Night Trek for The SDGs

Reaching the SDGs is literally a hike at night (and you have to light up the way to the summit!)

Reaching the SDGs is literally a hike at night (and you have to light up the way to the summit!)

This project looked inside Norway’s national hiking culture to reach the peak. It is thanks to this hiking culture -“turkultur”- that even shy Norwegians opened up to help each other. That is why the team decided to create the world’s first true SDG summit on top of two of Norway’s most popular hiking mountains. And in order to put our “turkultur” to the test, participants would climb to the summits in the dark. This idea was born by wanting to show that collaboration and fellowship are key to achieving the SDGs and believing that these qualities are inherent in all of us.

The team created a Facebook invitation and used targeted marketing, bloggers, local and national media to attract people from all across the country. Together with local municipalities, the Red Cross, the Norwegian Trekking Association and hundreds of volunteers they erected 17 light stops along the trails: Each one inviting the passing hikers to learn more about the goals. In 2016 and 2017, 20,000 hikers joined the treks up Gaustatoppen and Keiservarden. The participants lit up the trail for each other and learned about some of the most important messages of our time. Together they created spectacular human light chains that became powerful symbols of what we can achieve together. The starting point was that in 2016, only 35% of Norwegians knew that the SDGs existed, so the target was to increase awareness of the SDGs in the entire population of Norway by 10 percent in 2017.

From the summit, the message was spread through social media: using bloggers, musicians, UN agencies and even the Prime Minister as the project’s ambassadors. The campaign generated over 100 media stories including coverage in all major national media outlets. The films from the events have been viewed over 5.5 million times in social media.

But most importantly: awareness of the SDGs increased by 15%. Today, 50% of Norwegians know that the SDGs exist. This campaign started in 2016 and the idea is to continue the initiative throughout 2018 and 2019, initiating SDG events all over Norway. The People’s Summit will be expanded with seminars, outdoor activities, school activities and continue with night treks for the SDGs. All of it bound together with a social media campaign with films and pictures to tell the great stories of new communities and cities that has started their transformation towards 2030. The new goal now is that by 2020 65% of the Norwegian population is aware of the SDGs.

Chef´s manifesto

Cooking sustainable development from the kitchen and beyond

Cooking sustainable development from the kitchen and beyond

Chefs influence what we grow, what we put on our plates and how we think and talk about food. The changemakers behind this project felt chefs could be powerful advocates for a better food future – motivating people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empowering them to call on governments and companies to also play their part. Disruptive new voices like chefs could help translate SDGs into a language that resonates with the public and inspires them to take the action that will contribute to delivery of the goals.

Tackling food system challenges – such as undernutrition, food waste and soil degradation – is hugely complex. Success relies on everyone getting involved. By creating an online community and a Chefs’ Manifesto with simple, practical guidance on engaging in the SDGs, this initiative saw an opportunity to amplify existing activity, promote innovation and solutions and empower chefs all over the world to help deliver a more sustainable food system.

The SDG2 Advocacy Hub was uniquely placed to lead the initiative as it could draw on the expertise of Hub members – from NGOs to business and culinary organizations – to create a new movement for food. Over the last six months, the SDG2 Advocacy Hub has established a community of 130+ chefs from 38 countries who worked together to create a Chefs’ Manifesto. This is a document written by chefs, for chefs, synthesizing the SDGs into 8 thematic areas that chefs are most interested in tackling. The Manifesto is underpinned by an Action Plan which provides practical activities across each thematic area that chefs can take to contribute to the SDGs and inspire others to act. The Hub is also collating content and case studies of best practice across the chef network – from innovative ways of tackling food waste in kitchens to examples of chef-led social action in communities.

Notably, the initiative has helped give voice to chefs from all over the world and helped champion their vital role in engaging people in SDG 2 action. For instance, a group of chefs from India, UK, Venezuela and Cameroon presented the Manifesto at the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan in November 2017- providing an opportunity for the individual chefs to both profile their own work but also the power of collective action. The initiative will aim to change lives by equipping chefs all over the world with a simple set of actions to contribute to the SDGs and a ‘one-stop shop’ where they can access and share information that will help them drive change through their kitchens and in their communities.

The project´s aim is to continue to grow the chef network and engagement from all over the world – ensuring that the community is as inclusive and representative of the diverse role of chefs as possible. The Action Plan will be turned into a practical toolkit (translated into French, Spanish and English, in the first instance) which will serve as clear guidance for chefs as how they can – through areas such as purchasing power, kitchen practices and consumer education – contribute to the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

SDG2 Advocacy Hub