SDG Global Festival of Action — Day 2 highlights: It’s time to #TurnItAround, together

UN SDG Action Campaign
4 min readMar 29, 2021

Don’t miss highlights from Day 1:

SDG Global Festival of Action — Day 1 highlights
UN SDG Action Awards Winners announced

Thank you again for joining us at the SDG Global Festival of Action. We would also love to hear your feedback, make sure to take our Festival survey!

SDG Global Festival of Action — Day 2 highlights

On the second day of the SDG Global Festival of Action, we explored the systems change needed to make huge leaps forward for people and the planet with debates and discussions on some of the most urgent challenges we are facing today — from waste and pollution to inequalities; from urbanization to the climate crisis — and heard some of the solutions needed to solve these challenges. Government and private sector leaders, experts, activists, innovators, creatives gathered to exchange views on how to mobilize action across countries, industries and generations, so we recover better after the pandemic.

Here are 5 key discussions to catch up on for the day:

1. Think big, think systems: The change we need to supercharge SDG progress

Global issues are complex and interconnected. What are the systems we need to fundamentally change to tackle these issues? What is required to make the systemic change that reaches every person around the globe? The panel explored the systems shift needed to build more equitable and sustainable societies, and the entry points to create such shifts.

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2. Digital Tech and Innovation: Bridging the technology divide

The discussion in this session highlighted that lockdowns during the pandemic have again demonstrated the power and potential of technology. Rapid digital adoption not only facilitates governments, businesses, and schools to operate amidst COVID-19, but also helps people stay connected when they are apart. Yet 3.5 billion people still do not have internet access today. How can we close the gaps between the digital “haves” and “have-nots”? How can we make technology more inclusive and accessible so that no one is left behind? Various experts came together in this panel to discuss the role of technology in addressing poverty and inequality.

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3. Gender equality: A race we must win by 2030

The clock is ticking for us to take action for gender equality. How has COVID-19 stalled or reverse our progress so far? How quickly or slowly are countries moving towards gender equality? How can we speed up the pace of change to make sure we meet Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality by 2030? In this panel, experts from Africa, Asia, and Latin America gathered to discuss five key issues affecting the rates of progress, based on data from 129 countries: access to contraception, girls’ completion of secondary school, women in leadership, laws protecting workplace equality, and perceptions of safety.

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4. Reimagining our common future: Cities leading on SDG action

By 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Cities play a key role in achieving a sustainable future. How can we create local changes that contribute to the global advancement of the SDGs? What roles do local governments play in driving such changes? Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, and Mayors from three continents exchanged learnings and reflections on creating the fundamental changes needed to make our cities more resilient and sustainable.

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5. Ready, set…Let’s make a historic leap forward for the SDGs

The global pandemic is an urgent call and opportunity for us to rethink our behavior and values, and to design new systems that work for people and the planet. How can we rebuild the post-COVID19 world as envisioned by the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? How can we make that leap forward, and how can we know that we have made it? In this final session before the Closing Plenary, leaders from a diversity of background shared their views on how each of us could turn it around at this critical moment of history.

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3 more conversations that inspire you to take action

In addition to discussions and debates, Day 2 of the Festival also featured conversations with changemakers who shared stories of what motivated them to take action, and how we could learn from them to create change in our own community. The following are three of our favorites:

A Turning Point Dialogue: In Conversation with Rob Bilott

A Turning Point Dialogue: In Conversation with Trisha Shetty

A Turning Point Dialogue: In Conversation with Sanda Ojiambo

It’s time to #TurnItAround, together

As we wrapped up the Festival, we took the opportunity to reflect on how we could keep up the momentum generated during the two exciting days, to make sure that 2021 becomes a true turning point for people and the planet. “If we fail to make 2021 a turning point, it’ll be too late. The time really is now,” said Marina Ponti, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, in her closing remarks, “I urge you: Be positive. Be proactive. Above all, be the change.”

“Together we are stronger. This is just the beginning.” Are you ready to #TurnItAround with us?

It’s YOUR turn to #TurnItAround

Share with us how the SDG Global Festival of Action has inspired you to act for the SDGs! We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #TurnItAround!



UN SDG Action Campaign

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