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.

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!



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?



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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

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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

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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

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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


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:


SDGs and Digital Realities

Recreating a school in a virtual world using the online game Minecraft? Let´s play!

Recreating a school in a virtual world using the online game Minecraft? Let’s play!

The SDGs will only be reached if the goals and their targets can be meaningfully brought to life in a school community and not only at the tables of policymakers. Yet how often are young people invited to act on the SDGs?

Accepting the challenge, this team sought to achieve sustainable development in a school in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, by recreating that school in a virtual world and redesigning it to align with the SDGs using the online game Minecraft. As a partnership project with secondary school Presentation College Bray and human rights charity 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World, the aim was to produce an open-world thinking platform to enable the whole school community to be involved in mapping environmental and social footprints with the potential of the SDGs.

Inverting the often top-down dissemination of education, the project began with this unique context and analyzed it using the goals; enabling participants to become active producers and engineers empowered with visualizing how these changes might look as a planning project led by young people. The challenge was on the languages. Textual language is often the typical vehicle for policy development. Visualization, however, can be empowering, lasting and bridges words with imagined realities. This initiative galvanized students to lead on visual design-based thinking linked to sustainable development, gradually involving 37 students (ages 13-17), 11 teachers and staff from 80:20.

The ‘sustainable school’ model was created by the community and for the community; each modification reflected one of the 169 targets and underpinned by the 5 P’s of the SDGs (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership) in what kind of school they would like to see by 2030. Students drove new ideas in transforming the school into an SDG-friendly community and acted as spokespeople and champions of the visual design experiment, such as:

  1. field visits and peer-exchanges with other social justice student groups and peer-platforms such as the Let’s Talk project;
  2. presentations with national and SDG platforms, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Sustainability Research Coordination Group; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland;
  3. used social media: 20,000 project video views, and findings published in a research portfolio.

The project’s next steps are 1) to use a sustainable development open-world design model to test priority action ideas to bring about changes in the wider school community and accelerate other schools in getting started with their important role in implementing the SDGs; and 2) to share ideas and methodologies with schools and SDG stakeholders locally, nationally and globally to empower all educational institutions to nurture whole-community involvement in sustainable planning and visualisation.

Who is behind this?

Clifton Rooney, Tony Daly, Shane McInerney and Stuart Hannon.

For more information:

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Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Canada’s meeting point for crucial multi-sector conversations is on tour!

Together 2017: Collaboration, Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals was the first-ever multi-stakeholder symposium in Canada dedicated to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Together 2017 bridged the gap across sectors about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of collaboration and innovation in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

By convening representatives from across academia, civil society, national and subnational levels of government including federal, provincial, and municipal, Indigenous communities, the private sector and youth, Together 2017 set a foundation for how all stakeholders can work collectively to use the 2030 Agenda as a framework and common language, creating better organizations and communities in a better world. While conversations within sectors are taking place across the country about Agenda 2030, there exists a significant gap for convening multi-sector conversations.

Together 2017 fostered an environment which allowed diverse stakeholders to have open dialogue, learn, share and advance together. The Together 2017 Symposium provided an opportunity and platform for participants to showcase their work, celebrate accomplishments towards the SDGs, and identify where there is more work to be done.

Together 2017 speaker and participant Terry Sloan from the Southwest Native Cultures in Albuquerque, New Mexico expressed the impact of his participation at Together 2017 as being transformative. He had the opportunity to connect and share his wealth of knowledge with those in attendance particularly through his participation in the “Indigenous Perspectives on Achieving the SDGs” session. He encouraged using the Together 2017 “template” as a mechanism to foster the achievement of the UN SDGs and advancing Agenda 2030 both locally and globally.

Together 2018 will be taking place in Edmonton, Alberta in October 2018 with satellite conferences happening from coast to coast to coast across Canada. The Together movement has convened organizations to start a conversation that would not normally occur and will continue over the next 13 years. Conference organizers hope that Together will become a recurring symposium that travels across the country, broadening representation, charting progress, identifying next steps and keeping the discussion on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs alive and current. ​Together 2018 will look at what has been accomplished and where more efforts are needed. It will examine Canada’s voluntary national review, encourage new leaders to join the movement, and identify innovative ways to tackle the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Who is behind this?

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

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