A record-breaking 100 million+ actions taken during the 2021 Global Week to Act for SDGs
The 2021 Global Week to Act for SDGs has inspired 100 MILLION+ collective actions from organizations and individuals around the globe to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Held during the high-level week of United Nations General Assembly, from 17–28 September, this year’s mobilization also highlighted the Food Systems Summit, pre-COP in Milan, and COP26 in Glasgow. Most importantly, people around the world from over 190 COUNTRIES joined together in solidarity to show that there is hope beyond the pandemic, and that we can #TurnItAround for a healthy, just and green recovery, keeping the promise of the SDGs in this decisive decade counting down to 2030.
The remarkable actions which took place during this year’s mobilization illustrated not only a commitment to ensuring a more sustainable environment and planet, but also highlighted the ability of our convening partners, mobilizing partners, and participants to adapt their initiatives to the present-day global context.
Explore the inspiring action highlights of the 2021 Global Week to Act for SDGs
1. Individually led action campaigns
For the first year ever, the Global Week to #Act4SDGs opened its registration to individuals who take action by spreading awareness ons social media, such as using our butterfly effect AR filter, aimed at inspiring positive change in their communities.
Durga Maya Rai, an individual from Kathmandu, knows that “giving is not just about making a donation, it is about making a difference”. That’s why she committed to cutting her hair to donate to a wig program for cancer patients during the Global Week to #Act4SDGs.
Runa Ray, a fashion designer and environmentalist, has placed sustainability at the center of her work by using fashion as activism to advocate for policy change. Her designs utilize nature-based solutions, incorporating organic dyes and materials which keep our environment safe.
Individuals promoting zero-waste lifestyles by providing the SDG community with sustainable life hacks proved to be an emerging trend this year. From making the switch from disposable to reusable items to unplugging your electronic devices to save energy, these simple actions make a small but meaningful difference.
2. Igniting creativity for the #GlobalGoals
A Global Week would not be complete without creatively driven actions that inspire and captivate the attention of broad audiences.
The Mobile Film Festival did just this with their unique short film festival based on 1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film. The SDGs themes incorporated into the festival included human rights, women’s empowerment, and the overarching theme of ‘making peace with nature’.
In Hagåtña, the Guam Green Growth initiative launched an online advocacy campaign to celebrate ‘Sustainable September’. Participants were asked to share pictures of themselves and their families practicing sustainability in various ways through each week of the month. The aim of the campaign is to inspire personal behavioral change and combat climate change.
Thanks to a series of partnerships with the private creative sector, including Weischer, Ströer, Wall Decaux and Futerra, an SDG awareness video campaign premiered on over 1,000 digital billboards in 142 cities and over 3,500 cinema screens in 582 cities throughout Germany, including major cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg.
To close the Global Week to #Act4SDGs, we had a special performance by Sri Lankan singer and Road to Rights Ambassador for Clean Water Raini Charuka.
3. Driving #ClimateAction ahead of COP26
At this critical moment in the history of our planet, and with COP26 just around the corner, this year’s Global Week to #Act4SDGs witnessed a sharp increase in climate-related initiatives.
In China, the youth-led organization Waste Less Feed Better encouraged individuals to practice home composting to reduce food waste and give back to our earth.
Road to Rights launched ‘A Tree for Life’ campaign, planting 1 MILLION trees to protect our environment! Additionally, this organization based in Sri Lanka is working with communities minimize plastic use and create a sustainable future for us all.
World Cleanup Day is a yet again a leader this year in taking #ClimateAction and improving the sustainability of communities around our planet. Through their on-site and digital cleanup campaigns, this movement mobilizes millions each year and is the largest single peacetime civic action in human history. The digital cleanup campaigns encourage citizens to form new digital habits, with the aim of reducing the production of carbon dioxide.
4. Youth movements paving the road to a sustainable future
As our future leaders, youth play a key role in shaping the trajectory of our planet. The 2021 Global Week to #Act4SDGs has illustrated that youth possess the knowledge, skills, and passion to make our planet more sustainable for future generations.
The Youth Climate Report, a 2020 SDG Action Awards honorable mention recipient, promoted the Earthbeat video competition for youth ages 14–30. Select participants had their own films featured on the Youth Climate Report’s GIS map, along with being considered for recognition at COP26 in Glasgow. This year, young creators were asked to incorporate one of the following themes into their work: (1) the challenge of climate change, (2) protecting and restoring ecosystems, and (3) protecting and restoring land.
CENN, an organization working to protect our environment through fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus, hosted the Niko Ketskhoveli School Award. Hundreds of schools and eco-clubs in Georgia carry out activities to achieve the #SDGs each year, with the results presented in a competition. This initiative supports #QualityEducation by inspiring youth to be the change in their communities.
The Global Co Lab Network brings together youth from around the world through their teen-led and teen-run SDG Hubs. In Arlington, Virginia, teens ran a community garden and donated fresh produce to those in need. Actions like these bring our planet closer to achieving #ZeroHunger
5. Eliminating hunger through building and strengthening sustainable food systems
With the Food Systems Summit taking part during the 2021 Global Week to Act for SDGs, this year’s mobilization witnessed the emergence of new and innovative actions aimed at achieving #ZeroHunger.
The UNDP Tokyo’s Japan SDGs Innovation Challenge unites the UNDP Accelerator Labs with Japanese private companies to create sustainable solutions for local issues around the world. This year, the project focused on developing a mobile app to provide farmers with forecasted rainfall in Burkina Faso, and a solar dryer to preserve food for the Sabah community in Malaysia.
The Food Systems Caravan geared up for their 50-day journey across West Africa, linking actors to promote knowledge exchanges on food systems sustainability, including agroecology, agroforestry, organic farming and gender equality.
5. Attracting new SDG mobilizers through local governments and community events
Local governments and organizations offered exciting engagement opportunities to inspire local action for the #GlobalGoals.
Engagement Global’s project #17Ziele organized the ‘17Ziele Freude-Flash’, a flashmob for the #SDGs which took place in 17 cities in Germany at the same time on 18 September 2021, at 13:00. There were 850 musicians involved from 17 orchestras and 17 choirs, who performed Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in public places, and raised awareness for solidarity, partnerships and the SDGs. The 17Ziele Freude-Flash became a certificated world record!
The City of Bonn dedicated 17 SDG-filled days to the 17 #GlobalGoals! Greenpeace Bonn, FEMNET association and Zentrallager Sachspenden Bonn organized a clothing exchange party, which included a sewing workshop to promote responsible consumption and production. Additionally, the Bonn action group of UN Women is offered two feminist geocaching tours. The City of Bonn is also showed its colours for sustainability by erecting a beautiful umbrella canopy over one of the main streets to represent their commitment to the #SDGs.
The action doesn’t stop here!
On 21 September, the International Day of Peace, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated the following:
“We face a moment of truth. Now is the time to deliver…restore trust…[and] inspire hope. And I do have hope…humanity has shown that we are capable of great things when we work together.”
The 2021 Global Week to #Act4SDGs is a prime example of how both individual and collaborative actions can achieve such great things. The UN SDG Action Campaign would like to thank all partners, along with participant organizations and individuals for making this year’s mobilization the greatest yet. Although the Global Week has concluded, we need to maintain this momentum in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve 1 BILLION actions by 2030.
Join the movement and register your SDG action on our Global Heat Map to tell the world how YOU #Act4SDGs. We need to keep going, to keep challenging what we think, and to keep pushing what we believe we can do.
If there was ever a moment to truly turn things around, that moment is now. We must keep flipping the script, rewriting the rules and changing the story.