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.

Engaging young people in monitoring the implementation of the SDGs

Youth Power! 1,000 Zambian activists hold their communities accountable for SDG action

Youth Power! 1,000 Zambian activists hold their communities accountable for SDG action

Zambia’s population was estimated at 15.9 million in 2016 and available data indicates that 82% of Zambia’s population is under the age of 35. Such a youthful population presents an opportunity to harness and harvest in the new generation to achieve the 2030 agenda.

The launch of the SDGs provides a generational opportunity for these young people to become leaders in decision making, and to take part in the design, implementation and monitoring of the framework that directly affect their lives. The 2030 Agenda recognizes children and youth as ‘critical agents of change’ in the SDGs platform and for the creation of a new world’.

The Accountability Advocates Zambia in collaboration with various stakeholders believes in the power of investing in youth. The organization brings together over 1,000 youth who are aware of the SDGs and are empowered to monitor the implementation of the SDGs in their communities, hold their leaders accountable, and advocate for SDG engagement at the planning, implementation and monitoring levels. The main activities:

  1. Creating platforms and engaging youth in monitoring and accountability of the SDG at both the community and national levels
  2. Developing a youth-led Accountability Monitoring Framework.
  3. Building the capacity of youth in social accountability, budget and service delivery tracking
  4. Sensitizing the youth and community members about the SDGs and their importance in everyone’s life.

The next steps are scale up the project in Southern Africa and ensure that youth in the region have the capacity to advocate for the implementation and achievement of the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

Accountability Advocates Zambia

For more information:


Translation of SDGs into local languages

It all starts with education. And from there, people can make demands to political leaders

It all starts with education. And from there, people can demand action from their political leaders.

This initiative under the Great Lakes Peace Center seeks to address the problem of marginalized groups of people both in school and out of school and those groups of people who have low levels of education or not educated at all. The objective is to support them so they are able to understand the Global Goals in their own languages and be able to advocate for themselves to have more local government plans aligned to Agenda 2030. The changemakers behind this project noticed that in their community (Rwenzori region, Western Uganda) there had not been such efforts before because people including local government leaders had limited or no knowledge of the SDGs.

The initiative has created awareness of the goals and their indicators, and raised numerous discussions on what is being done to align the local development plans to the global vision. Through the involvement of Youth Councils, people demanded action in communities, especially for the goals on gender equality, climate action, quality education and peace and justice. That has led to tremendous and commendable work by local authorities to include these particular goals in planning so far. Musoki Evelyn, a child mother that had dropped out from school, was brought on board among hundreds of other young girls and boys during an activity they carried out in collaboration with the Gender and Community development department of their Municipality, during a 16 days campaign of activism against gender-based violence in December 2017.

The initiative will continue to build dialogue at local levels to involve as many young people as possible as they form a big electoral majority. This will bring in a new breed of leaders that are able to address development at global trends. Schools are to be used to build a knowledge base and generate discussions at inter school level presided over by local leaders to be able to influence their decisions pertaining to the goals. This shall eventually involve the sub national government level as plans will be moving upwards for possible funding from national level.

Who is behind this?

The Great Lakes Peace Center

For more information:


Integrando tecnología educativa en Casa de la Mujer Indígena “Mak Ujhani”

Indigenous women find a shelter to treat and avoid gender violence -and it is run by one of them

Indigenous women find a shelter to treat and avoid gender violence -and it is run by one of them

Angelica Ruiz Felix, an otomí indigenous woman from Queretaro, Mexico is a mother of 4 children, artisan, Otomi cultural manager and official Otomi-Spanish translator. She is also the administrator of the House of Indigenous Woman “Casa de la Mujer Indígena ´Mak Ujhani´” (CAMI) in Tolimán, Querétaro, Mexico.

CAMI is a center run by women trained as promoters, facilitators and traditional doctors. The problem they address with their work is the prevention and eradication of violence against women. This initiative offers services at the CAMI to prevent, assist and give follow-up care to women that have suffered any type of violence.

The center also raises awareness through workshops, courses and summits to women and men and create spaces to exchange experiences and work along with public servants to address violence against women in the municipality.

Who is behind this?

Angelica Ruiz Felix

For more information:

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Youth Power Accountability Advocates

Since 2015, this initiative has provided Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to over 1,000 teenagers and educated 40 rural mothers on maternal health in Ghana. Some of the girls who benefitted from the education and services were able to avoid pregnancy and stay in school

Since 2015, this initiative has provided Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to over 1,000 teenagers and educated 40 rural mothers on maternal health in Ghana. Some of the girls who benefitted from the education and services were able to avoid pregnancy and stay in school

Teenage pregnancy in Ghana hit an all-time high in the year 2014 with 750,000 girls between the ages of 15-19 years being pregnant. One of the major factors that contributed to this problem which still persists was the absence of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and limited knowledge and access to contraceptives for young people.

As an advocate for women and girls’ rights and a member of Curious Minds, the changemaker behind this project began an initiative with support of Restless Development; a youth-led organization in the UK, to provide CSE and contraceptive services for young people. Together with a team, they further provided education to rural mothers in on how to reduce maternal death and ensure safe delivery. In a conservative society where tradition and religion criticize the use of modern contraceptives and sex education, not many young people will dare to be open.

Two women and a Queen Mother (Traditional Leader) who benefited from the education on safe delivery have taken up advocacy roles as a community peer educators encouraging women to visit the hospital for safe delivery rather than going to traditional birth attendants who are not certified or trained. This initiative did not only end with education and service provision. Dzikunu also works with a team of two other advocates and 20 data collectors to compile a report that identified gaps and challenges that prevent young people from accessing CSE and contraceptive services.

The findings of this report were presented to the Ghana Health Service and used the evidence influence the Ghana Adolescent Health Policy and Strategy. In 2017, Dzikunu was supported by Restless Development to present the report findings at 72nd United Nations General Assembly and subsequently in Tbilisi, Georgia during an Annual Showcase conference of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. By making these data and findings known to governments, civil society organization and other stakeholders, the project has received support such as grants from some organizations to continue empowering these young people.

Who is behind this?

Dzikunu Richard Mawutor

Sindh Community Foundation

The one with people from regions of Pakistan owning the SDGs and pushing their politicians to act

Pakistanis taking ownership of the SDGs and pushing their politicians to act

Localizing the implementation of the SDGs should involve –without a doubt– local people to provide their views and have the opportunity to express priorities and solutions with their perspective. That is always a challenge, but it can be even more when we talk about a region in Pakistan.

This initiative has invited mostly women, young people, peasants and laborers from the Sindh province to go through a training on SDGs in order to better understand them and then be able to express priority to possible solutions with their knowledge and engagement. These groups were involved in planning, discussion and learning processes regarding the SDGs commitment and implementation.

The intervention took place in 10 local districts that had their own advocacy groups. In Sukkur district, youth negotiated with district administration for allocating budget for youth development and women councilors negotiated in district budget sessions for providing women toilets in busy shopping areas of city and safe drinking water. In the district of Hyderabad, participants have formed alliance to talk with district administration for safe and resilient city planning.

Participant’s push to solve development issues relevant to all SDGs has actually put pressure on the government’s side in order to take serious planning and resource allocations at local level. This project has the will to keep on strengthening and expanding more alliances in other provinces of Pakistan as well as building capacities of NGOs to pursue SDG implementation. Furthermore, the initiative will provide social accountability tools for youth, women and peasants and laborers to negotiate with their elected representatives and district level resource providers.

Who is behind this?

Sindh Community Foundation

For more information:


“Leave no one behind” campaign

“Let´s be together, let´s be inclusive, let´s be united and leave no one behind / Hold hands in hands and move forward / Leave no one behind, say this together”. This is how the song of this campaign begins!

Advocacy in Pakistan sets the beat and everyone should be dancing

“Let´s be together, let´s be inclusive, let´s be united and leave no one behind / Hold hands in hands and move forward / Leave no one behind, say this together”.

This is how the song of the “Leave no one behind” campaign begins. Its original language is in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan and it was broadcasted through radio and social media across the country. Policies- to-action forums were also organized across the country, as a campaign during the last 500 days of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) and to help kick off the post-2015 consultations with different stakeholders including governments, academia, companies, media, students and the most marginalized and socially excluded groups like religious and sexual minorities. Almost all of them were unaware of the MDGs and wanted to be part of such transformative agenda.

Based upon the “Leave no one behind” campaign and findings of the consultations, the team developed a documentary and a song in Urdu to popularize the MDG/SDGs agenda to the masses.  AwazCDS/PDA is now the only leading platform in the country that has mobilized the people from all walks of life for better understanding and implementing the SDGs through better governance and greater accountability. This initiative has also sensitized the parliamentarians in Pakistan who have been engaged in SDG taskforces at national and provincial levels to oversee the implementation of the goals.

The national government has institutionalized the creation of SDG Units at planning and development levels in order to introduce the 2030 Agenda in annual and multiyear developmental and financial plans. AwazCDS/Pakistan Development Alliance is now in the process of carrying out a mapping / gap analysis of the CSOs/ private sector engagement in the implementation of SDGs by the national and provincial governments. The mapping will help the team develop a robust advocacy plan for pushing both governments and private sector/ CSOs to join hands together for achieving the commitments made under the 2030 agenda.

Moreover, the project has also conducted a national survey in Pakistan to prioritize the SDGs and interestingly Goal 16 was recommended as the top priority of various stakeholders and governments too. The campaign has also pushed the national Government to join the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process and there is a commitment from the Pakistani leaders to conduct a VNR in 2019.

Who is behind this?

AwazCDS / Pakistan Development Alliance

For more information: