How we achieved the largest Global Week to #Act4SDGs ever
This year, the UN SDG Action Campaign’s Global Week to #Act4SDGs was all about changing prevailing negative narratives and scaling up transformative action. From 16 to 25 September 2022, during the high-level UN General Assembly debate in New York, millions of individuals and organization worldwide came together to act for climate action, peace and justice.
A record 142+ million actions in at least 190 countries and territories have been registered in this year’s mobilization, proving that together, our collective power can bring positive change in the face of global challenges like the pandemic, increasing inequalities, the impact of wars and conflict, and ongoing climate change.
People from a wide range of communities have taken part in marches and events, calling on their leaders to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to ‘flip the script’ on the trajectory of our shared future.
Here are some inspiring initiatives which took place during the Global Week:
1. Pledging for global change
On 25 September, the anniversary of the SDGs, thousands of people across the globe took part in a public act of solidarity by flipping signs carrying a negative word or statement into a positive one to call on leaders across sectors to join together to Flip the Script and rewrite the story to create a whole new, and better world.
Over 70 public stunts and activations took place in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Japan, Congo, Ukraine, Germany, Palestine, Zimbabwe, India, Bangladesh, Italy, Pakistan, USA, Mexico, Philippines, Peru, Togo, Zambia, Malawi, Thailand, Nepal, Tanzania, Gambia, Argentina, Norway, Cameroon, Nicaragua, France and more.
In Italy, Elisa, singer and UN SDG Action Campaign Ally, paused her concert with 2,500 spectators at the iconic Sforzesco Castle in Milan, where the entire audience flipped a sign that had the words Guerra (war) on one side and Pace (peace) on the other.
The German city of Bonn hosted several SDG-celebratory activities, including the charity Zero Hunger Run and a public stunt in front of Bonn Townhall.
2. Campaigning on digital screens and platforms
Digital platforms and social media were filled with messages of advocacy and action, using the hashtags #Act4SDGs and #FlipTheScript, with a social media reach of more than 163+ million and over 785,000 engagements — tripling the coverage compared to 2021.
Here are some other innovative activities which took place during the Global Week:
- Social multiverse creators, Digital Village, launched a brand-new Global Week metaverse space where players could access a new and exciting virtual world to contribute to a ‘wish tree’ by virtually adding messages of hope, action, and peace to the tree.
- Code Green, World of Women and the UN SDG Action Campaign organized a first-of-its-kind digital art exhibition supporting the Global Week to #Act4SDGs. With the leadership of Yam Karkai, Ally of the UN SDG Action Campaign, and Inna Modja, Founder of Code Green, the activation brought together an eclectic group of established and emerging artists creating digital artworks inspired by the global Flip the Script campaign. The artworks were exhibited at Goals House and in Central Park in NYC in September 2022, as well as on digital screens at more than 25 airports around the world in partnership with VINCI Airports.
- Castenow, Weischer, Ströer, Wall Decaux and Goldbach partnered with the UN SDG Action Campaign to activate ae broad audience to join the Global Week to #Act4SDGs via digital billboards throughout Germany, including in major cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg, in the streets, subway stations and other urban areas with an estimated reach of more than 20 million, and on cinema screens with a 4.5 million reach.
Other organizations shared their own messages on digital platforms to encourage people to #FlipTheScript and join the Global Week:
- International Paralympic Committee
- UNDP Bangladesh
- Viessmann, with messages on energy transition and activations targeting their staff
- United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), with messages on ecological transition; trust; and inequalities
3. Putting the SDGs in the spotlight
SDG actions were taken on the ground and amplified throughout networks and digital channels; changemakers’ stories were told to inspire action — see some highlights below.
Action for Sustainable Development led campaign groups which marched in the streets, making their presence felt in well-known locations and in their parliaments. They got creative, putting on theatre events and art installations and organizing dialogues in schools and communities. In Sri Lanka, one group organized a demonstration with local ocean campaigners to share banners under the sea advocating for change. Many groups connected young leaders and raised up voices of those who are being left behind, such as the Dalit community in India, Indigenous communities in Mexico and residents of townships in South Africa.
My World Mexico hosted a major SDG Festival in Guadalajara with hundreds of young people from across the country sharing community solutions and enabling a dialogue with local decision-makers.
CIEDS, a Brazilian NGO, interviewed and mobilized its social project members to write their proposals to #FlipTheScript, underpinning their commitment to act for the SDGs. The activation reached 10,300 people during the Global Week, including youths from marginalized communities.
World Cleanup Day, on 17 September, engaged millions to clean up their communities and raised awareness about the global waste problem. Many countries doubled their participation rate, and others have their incredible engagement numbers still coming in. The success of World Cleanup Day is also about a social shift and a boost of the cross-sectoral cooperation towards the circular economy.
The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), the Coalition for the UN We Need (C4UN) and other civil society networks self-organized national, regional, and constituency assemblies in 27 countries to create the 4th Global People’s Assembly which took place online, on 20–22 September, as part of the Global Week to #Act4SDGs. From climate change, corruption, COVID-19, global finance, to the ravages of armed conflict, food insecurity, and the extremes of wealth and poverty, the forum provided an overarching framework to discuss how to move the SDGs forward.
Runa Ray, a fashion designer, environmentalist and mobilizing partner of the Global Week who uses art as activism to advocate for policy change has helped save a staggering 25 million liters of water since her Peace Flag Project started in September 2020. The initiative literally takes the form of an actual flag made of various pieces of clothing that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. These fabrics are then upcycled and converted into canvases upon which individuals create their pledges towards climate action.
Individuals and organizations have stepped up their commitment to the SDGs on every continent. There were groups coordinating tree planting, beach cleaning, learning in schools, and hosting joint events; while others held events to promote community farming, land management and renewable energy. See some of the 2022 Global Week stories at: https://act4sdgs.org/stories/
The UN SDG Action Campaign joined forces with several events happening in September 2022, to further raise awareness on the SDGs:
- On 21 September, the International Day of Peace, the Campaign joined the Peace One Day live concert by screening a Peace message video and participating in an interview on the challenges of manifesting a more peaceful and sustainable world.
- Partnering with Aworld and ActNow, UN’s campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. The app, which helps users track their carbon footprint and spurs behaviour change, mobilizes millions of people, and the UN SDG Action Campaign contributed by launching the app in German to reach a wider audience.
4. Honouring changemakers and initiatives with the UN SDG Action Awards
Closing the 2022 Global Week to #Act4SDGs, the UN SDG Action Awards Ceremony celebrated changemakers and initiatives during a live ceremony held on 27 September in Bonn, Germany. Winners of the 2022 Awards were announced in front of a 150-in-person audience at Deutsche Telekom in Bonn and over 13,000 online viewers via a global live stream. They were selected from over 3,000 applications from at least 150 countries. The ceremony featured art performances by Inna Modja, Mame Balla and Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile, and inspiring speeches from the finalists, judges and more.
The UN SDG Action Campaign has scaled up engagement this year with even more partners across the world joining the 2022 Global Week to #Act4SDGs. Marina Ponti, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign:
“The power is in our hands to flip the script for people and the planet, which means re-writing the narrative and reclaiming our future. In these challenging times for the world, our message is one of hope — hope that we can flip apathy into action, war into peace, division into unity.”
2022 Global Week to #Act4SDGs official partners
The action doesn’t stop here
Keep sharing your SDG actions throughout the year on the SDG global map and on social media — tag us at @SDGAction and use the hashtags #Act4SDGs #FlipTheScript