SDG Global Festival of Action — Day 1 highlights: How can we all #TurnItAround?

As the world is still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, and with many countries still in lockdown, this year’s SDG Global Festival of Action (March 25–26) gathered leaders and changemakers to explore how we can #TurnItAround and accelerate action for the Sustainable Development Goals and for a just and sustainable recovery.

The virtual Festival program was even more engaging and diverse than previous editions — as we were able to virtually bring in more speakers from across the world! Talks, performances, interactive workshops and exhibitions engaged more than 20,000 people across the two days. The platform also featured a digital connection space where people could meet and network with each other from wherever they were. With over 20,000 remote participants tuning in from 203 countries and territories, this has been the Festival’s largest and most geographically diverse edition ever!

Missed out on the first day of the Festival? No stress! Here are five highlights from Day 1 to bring you up to speed:

1. Let’s #TurnItAround: The time to act is now

The High-Level Opening Plenary set the tone on the discussions on shifting systems. It was followed by the Big Picture Plenary, addressing the top priorities on the world’s agenda from the global health crisis to the climate emergency from the threats to biodiversity to the threats to human rights and the deepening of inequalities and gender disparities. Big questions were explored during the session, and speakers agreed — that these issues are not unsolvable. They simply require urgent action at all levels, including by each one of us — as even individual actions, no matter how big or small, can add up to great impact.

2. Need inspiration to act?

Notable speakers for the conversations and talks included UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, who discussed the impact of the pandemic on women and youth in particular, and the silver linings that kept her optimistic; Filipino climate activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan, who delivered an impassioned plea to recognize and empower the marginalized that are bearing the brunt of climate change; Director of 4SD David Nabarro and Special Envoy on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization, who highlighted what we need to do to come through this pandemic and set the world on the right path.

3. The Festival went local: Japan joins the force!

The Japan Stage opened with a “Lightning Talk: Message For Our Future,” where UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Misako Konno shared powerful messages from youth in Japan on how we can “turn it around” for people and the planet, in Japan and beyond. Youth voices were further amplified in the two Japan workshops, as young leaders shared their personal journeys of creating positive change for their community through action, innovation and entrepreneurship.

4. Engagement with the Festival: just one click away

In between conversations, workshops and panel discussions, there were also musical performances featuring Kety Fusco, Miss Tati, Ben Harper, and Anaiis, among others.

You could always drop by the Experience and Action area for street art, photography, the new MY World 360° immersive media selection, and much more by artists like Yoko Ono, Uğur Gallenkuş, Google Arts&Culture, La Triennale Milano, Lavazza Group — all you needed to do to attend this virtual exhibition space was to register to join the Festival!

5. Celebrating the #SDGawards winners

The ceremony celebrated the achievements of SDG Action Awards Finalists and Honourable Mentions, shining a spotlight on bold and impactful initiatives at a time when we most need hope, creativity and collaboration.

Meet the winners of the SDG Awards:

Watch the Awards Ceremony

Looking ahead: Must-watch sessions for Day 2

Day 1 Must watch List: Will be available on the Festival on-demand library in the coming days

Share with us YOUR ideas on how we can #TurnItAround

Official account of the UN SDG Action Campaign, aiming to mobilize, inspire & connect a movement to #TurnItAround for the #GlobalGoals

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