Photo: United Nations

The concept of festival usually refers to music or cinema, but the German city of Bonn has hosted a “different” festival twice, in order to share experiences that allow achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN planned in its Agenda 2030. In 2015, the Assembly of United Nations adopted this global agenda to improve and to replace the Millenium Development Goals. In 2000, the objective was to achieve 8 goals that would allow greater equality in the world and, especially, for developing countries (with issues such as extreme poverty, hunger, child mortality and malaria). Thus, the ODS become 17, with an agenda that becomes the framework of reference for global programs, which require involvement of local governments.

In this article we will explain a bit how was the Bonn festival, while in a second we will focus on how to implement and locate SDGs in the cities.

Bonn, again, hosted the GLOBAL FESTIVAL OF ACTION (organized by the United Nations) between 20th and 23d March, which brought together very plural voices. There were more than 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries, also taking into account that some 30,000 people from up to 158 countries followed some of the sessions via streaming, making the hashtag #SDGlobalFest a trending topic on Twitter in Germany. The objective was to connect experiences, learn about other realities and be able to come back home with the task of promoting the ODS locally. The next edition of the festival will take place between March 6th and 9th, 2019, in the same city of Bonn.

Ashok Sridharan, mayor of Bonn / Photo: UN

The festival featured screening of films, conferences, debates, shows of entities and even more entertaining aspects such as live cooking and music.

After the welcome by the mayor of Bonn, Ashok Sridharan, the director of the SDG Action Campaign, Mitchel Toomey, emphasized the need for SDGs to become part of the daily life of civil society, either as a beneficiary but also as an executor. The Afrika Youth Movement’s manager Aya Chebbi said that “our struggle is that of African voices,” focusing in a specific area of ​​the planet where SDGs make more sense. Chebbi began to travel through different African countries after the Arab Spring in his country, Tunisia, and discovered that young people shared similar problems.

Photo: UN

An important section in the festival was the first edition of the UN SDG Action Awards. The communication prize was for the Belgian city of Gent, who identified five simple and specific challenges linked to SDGs (such as going to work on bicycle or not eating meat for a while) in order to change habits and with the participation of 6,000 people.

Other awards recognized the fight against corruption in Nigeria, with programs aimed at children and young people in schools; the mobilization of young people from Morocco with the initiative Youth Engagement Morocco to work on the achievement of 17 SDGs, and the inclusion for sexual and reproductive health education among adolescents in Ghana, with a program in schools and houses that has already formed more than 1,000 girls.

One of the topics that most planned in the different presentations was how to communicate the SDGs. Some of the conclusions, related to the European Union, were:

– Take into account university campuses as living laboratories to implement appropriate public policies that contribute to the development of SDGs.

– Share the SDGs with those people with less familiarity with sustainability issues through art and culture.

– Promote collaborative spaces in different organizations to better understand their potential contribution to SDGs.

– Work in alliances between different actors to make the message as cross-cutting as possible.

Some initiatives to keep in mind:

  • My World 2030. Platform of data generated by the same citizens to offer a follow-up of ODS, while encouraging participation, as it includes individual indicators of progress.
  • Humans of my world: it presents stories beyond data and numbers. With testimonials, already collected in more than 30 countries, which are even used in high-level political meetings.
  • World We Want. Joint initiative between the UN and members of civil society. It allows any person to participate in different queries related to the ODS and to contribute their opinions.


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