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.


A solution to bring inaccessible data to decision-makers – and it’s not magic!

A solution to bring inaccessible data to decision-makers – and it’s not magic!

In most places in the developing world, information is still recorded on paper registers, and most of this data never makes it to a digital format. If it does become digitized, it is often stored in local languages, unstructured formats and extremely difficult to extract. To make matters worse, data is often housed in siloed, disconnected systems that just don’t talk to each other. With data this problematic, how can anyone track and accelerate the SDGs?

The initiative SocialCops in collaboration with the United Nations, active in India and Papua New Guinea, came up with a promising answer!

The SDG Solution developed by SocialCops in collaboration with the UN RCO office in India uses proprietary technology to generate and aggregate real-time data, then analyze and visualize a complete data-driven picture for every one of the 17 SDGs. With a data-driven approach to measuring progress towards Agenda 2030, their solution helps governments, nonprofits and foundations bring together data from anywhere – from web services and APIs to inaccessible PDF tables and primary surveys. By conquering problematic data and data sources, top decision-makers can finally consolidate their efforts across different sectors, measure their impact, find better solutions, and accelerate development.

The SocialCops-UNIndia SDG solution empowers decision-makers across different levels of the development sphere to make better, more data-driven decisions to accelerate the SDGs through their organization’s work. The solution is currently being implemented in three different contexts: at a national level in India with data from the government’s social welfare initiatives; across the private sector by the Business Council of Papua New Guinea to track the impact of corporate giving and throughout the state of Maharashtra’s gram panchayats (GPs, or self-governing village councils) to develop digital GP Development Plans and streamline participatory planning.

While launching its SDGs4Businesses dashboard (developed in partnership with UNDP and the Business Council of Papua New Guinea), the former UN Resident Coordinator for Papua New Guinea Roy Trivedi remarked: “Working with SocialCops has brought a wealth of cutting-edge data analytics and software engineering to PNG… They have worked around the clock to prepare this dashboard in record time and I am very proud of the result.”

The solution is still under implementation in India and Papua New Guinea, but the governments and United Nations have envisioned it as a North Star to guide and target all development programs and activities. Once the solution is complete, each country will be able to track every aspect of its progress toward achieving the SDGs, identify what is hindering its progress in real time, and align all development programs — at the central or state level, implemented by governments or NGOs — to focus on the indicators, sectors and geographies that will maximize progress toward Agenda 2030.



Who is behind this?



For more information:


Our Life 21

When real people share the changes they are adopting in their lifestyles to be more sustainable (and you can help imitating them!)

When real people share the changes they are adopting in their lifestyles to become more sustainable (and you can help by imitating them!)

Despite commitments to fight climate change, actions do not match those required to limit global temperature increases to below 2°C. We need to convince people that adopting more sustainable lifestyles is the key to increase well-being. People are in search of an inspirational vision. The SDGs provide such a vision: by covering issues as diverse as urban planning, inequalities, agriculture, transports, which are all important aspects of sustainable development and climate policies. The 17 SDGs and their specific targets offer a path to a shared desirable future.

The project Our Life 21 (OL21) aims at allowing individuals to develop a positive perspective within this framework. It captures the prospective stories of 40 hypothetical families in 9 different countries (France, Germany, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, China, India, Peru, and Senegal) for a sustainable future in 2030. Most of these stories have been developed during specific workshops. The shadow activity of the families, with different sociodemographic backgrounds and lifestyle patterns, are further analyzed on the basis of quantified energy scenarios.

Stéphanie was a participant of OL21. The team allowed her to reflect upon her own lifestyles patterns and identify the changes through which she could take action to reach the future she desires. She has reduced the impacts of transports in her life (short circuit for food, holidays…). As she was so conscious of the need for transformation, she quit her job: now, she wants to take part in the development of alternative solutions. Personal, sincere and empathic narratives foster SDG’s ownership, as each person is considered an essential part of the collective journey towards sustainability.

Since 1993, 4D Association has created meaningful connections and learning processes on sustainable development and associated transformative actions. Few civil society organisations work on such cross-cutting issues, from the very local to the global level. To further mobilize civil society, the initiative will launch the platform We are the SDGs (March 2018) to facilitate the networking of changemakers and to collect data on local experimentations. The platform uses an SDG criteria to match individuals and projects: the more cross-cutting a project, the more collaboration opportunities. Thus, the platform fosters peer-to-peer learning and partnerships. During the SDG week, this initiative will promote frontrunner projects, selected according to different criteria (impact, transversality, replicability…), in articles and public events. In addition, they will take this opportunity to strengthen coordination between civil society organizations for an effective SDG implementation in France and in Europe.

The impact of the program will continue to grow as households are empowered by giving them the information they need to take action to accelerate adoption of cleaner energy solutions and better nutrition. Reaching people at scale with evidence based, informative, yet also entertaining and motivating content, can have a transformational impact in making progress toward the SDGs across the globe.

Who is behind this?

Vaia Tuuhia

Global goals for local impact

Make it household data, make a real implementation

Capturing local household data for impactful SDG implementation

The changemakers behind this project took the position that the sustainable development goals are best achieved by citizens at subnational level, based on their experience. They therefore set out to demonstrate that this is actually possible and that citizens, when properly organized, can achieve these goals using every household’s data.

They worked with the community leaders to understand the value of data in identifying the
development gaps and the needs that they must address in order to achieve the goals in
their area. Thanks to the support of the community they were able to collect Citizen Generated Data from every household in Lanet Umoja (12,500) on all aspects relating to the SDGs, including security, food, agriculture, livelihoods, education, health, energy, water and sanitation.

This is a fairly new concept globally and certainly in Africa. They are now moving their initiative to work with 12 locations (approx, 200,000 households) to replicate the work they are doing there. But they are also working with the government to mainstream our model nationally. The Open Institute works with governments, civil society, private sector companies, media organisations and others to realize citizen-driven open societies in Africa, managed by informed, fact-driven citizens.

The collected data was visualized on a portal which can be viewed at to enable the entire community to access it and analyze what it
meant to them. The community was able to identify a number of key needs in the location –
there was no health centre in the whole location, households that were led by women were
affected by insecurity and that while there was water in the location and there was a high
prevalence of waterborne diseases.

Their aim is to do this through various community-level initiatives and forging partnerships with other organizations in this space. Through their work, the people behind this initiative aim to achieve two main changes in our societies: they want to see governments that proactively open everything that is relevant to development into the public light and to give value to citizen voices.

Who is behind this?

Al Kags

For more information:


Zamisli2030 / Imagine2030

The relevant necessity of spreading the SDGs at a country level

Spreading the SDGs at country level

IMAGINE 2030 is an initiative of the UN team in Bosnia and Herzegovina, designed to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Global Agenda through the use of “strategic foresight” and the innovative and interactive SDG consultations tool with elements and the dynamics of social games through which the participants create together, and in a very democratic manner, find imaginative solutions around a selected sustainable development goal or a specific task or a problem.

To date, over 1,200 people were engaged through the SDG workshops Information gathered include negative and positive associations about the past; negative and positive associations about the present; their visions for the future; their perspectives on what key societal values BiH needs to strive for; and information on key actions and elements that need to be in place to achieve the SDGs. Additionally, citizens prioritized SDGs and targets and problem-solved SDG targets adjusted to the local context.

In the process, citizens have elaborated hundreds of brilliant ideas and have identified numerous accelerators for sustainable development. The people behind the project would like to upscale the tool globally. Adaptation would be very simple for any country or organization that would be interested to try the approach and engage citizens with the SDGs directly. Citizen participation is at the core of the sustainable development and citizens need to have a voice in shaping policies and priorities for development and determine their future together with decision makers.

The project’s core is that everyone engaged through the workshops left with clear understanding about the complexity of the task ahead and understanding that the change needs to start with each individual. Though this initiative, citizens are ultimately being empowered to co-create the future with all other relevant stakeholders and ‘nudge’ them to embrace responsibility to also co-change that imagined future.

Who is behind this?

Envesa Hodzic-Kovac / UNCT BiH

For more information:


Nigeria in maps

The new word you need to know is “mapicles” (maps+articles)

The new word you need to know is “mapicles” (maps+articles)

The main objective of this initiative is to represent technical data, resources and statistics using maps which can be more visually understood by the general public. This makes for a better interpretation of any contentious social issues using factual, colorful and simplified maps. According to a 2016 Microsoft survey, humans have an average attention span of just eight seconds. Based on this finding, it is safe to conclude that public representation of data on topical issues including those related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be catchy and thought-provoking.

Nigeria In Maps is an online catalog of maps about Nigeria on current national issues. The articles that go with each map have been coined as “Mapicles”. Data gathering from developing countries can be quite challenging, including data currency, accuracy, availability and accessibility. Anyone with the experience of working with data can relate to these challenges but this initiative is for the benefit of the general public and humanity.

After several months of searching for publicly available Nigerian data, the changemaker behind the project was able to produce thematic maps on health, gender equality, security, population, finance, politics and general knowledge. Shortly after the launch of Nigeria In Maps, Anadolu – the largest news agency in the Middle East published an article on Boko Haram based on a map-video from the website. These maps show that available data can become valuable if properly communicated. More “thought-provoking” maps will be produced and hopefully this idea will be replicated in other developing countries.

Who is behind this?

Olusegun Osifuye

For more information: