At a time when communities across the world are yearning for connection in a physically distanced reality, when traditional campaigning, mobilizing and convening are held at bay in the face the COVID-19 pandemic response, this year’s SDG Global Festival of Action on 25–26 March provided the platform for SDG changemakers across the world to hear the latest insights, to engage in campaign activations and to learn new skills, and adopt much needed tools to push harder and further to repurpose failing systems and turn them around leveraging the blueprint of the SDGs.
The Festival in Numbers
Despite the challenges of physical distance, the dynamic feeling of togetherness and inspiration was captured on our virtual platform, which featured both live and pre-recorded sessions with over 300 speakers from over 80 countries, hosting plenary sessions, interactive workshops, performances, exhibits, creative content pieces, lightning talks and innovation labs with leaders, changemakers, activists, private sector and more.
This year also included the first regional spin-off edition — the SDG Global Festival of Action from Japan, highlighting local SDG efforts by various stakeholders and experts. And last but not least, the UN SDG Action Awards celebrated transformative projects that accelerated action towards the Goals, showcasing the winners in a live ceremony.
With over 24,000 registered participants from 203 countries and territories, this has been the biggest, boldest Festival yet! Nearly 12,000 people joined 27 interactive workshops and over 14,000 networking connections were made by Festival Platform users. The Festival featured 20 exhibits which were accessed by nearly 2,500 participants.
These numbers show that multi-sectoral engagement on the SDGs is being called for, valuable, and necessary. Feedback has been very positive from both speakers and participants.
Social media engagement has been truly exceptional, with over 148,000 people from over 100+ countries directly engaged, using our hashtag #TurnItAround — taking the conversations far beyond the ‘walls’ of the Festival.
Key opinion leaders who amplified the conversation with #TurnItAround included the United Nations, Samsung, UN Environment Program, UNDP, visual artist Uğur Gallenkuş, UNHCR Ambassador MIYAVI, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, YouTube star Prajakta Koli, and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
With the Global and Japan stages streaming live simultaneously on UN YouTube, UN WebTV, Facebook and Twitter, it ensured the widest possible reach with over 85,000 views over the two days.
Multilingualism and accessibility
We are proud to have partnered with Signs TV who provided International Sign Language support to make our event more accessible than ever. Sessions, including workshops, in English, French, Spanish and Japanese are available at the virtual library.
UN SDG Action Awards
Nine inspiring finalist initiatives were highlighted at the SDG Action Awards Ceremony of which three were announced as winners during the live ceremony. The open call for submission received over 2,000 from 140+ countries. 21 judges from across sectors and countries reviewed the entries submitted.
This event was especially successful because of inter-agency collaboration from across the UN System — UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNFCCC, UN Secretariat, and UNDP in Japan. And aside from the amazing content, session and workshop hosts, our exhibitors, speakers and incredible performers, we also acknowledge the support from our partners from the German and Japan Governments, the Japan SDG Action Promotion Council, the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Canon, Oculus, Digital Promise and Lavazza Group, Engagement Global, and our creative partners Triennale Milano and Keychange. See all partners
The action doesn’t stop here!
Our team at the UN SDG Action Campaign will continue to live by our motto to mobilize, connect and inspire to scale up participation and elevate the conversation on how we can make 2021 a turning point for people and the planet. We will be active at key moments throughout 2021, including at the Generation Equality Forum (May), the Pre-COP (September-October) and COP26 (November) climate summits, the Food Systems Summit and of course the UN General Assembly (both in September).
Furthermore, the Global Week to #ACT4SDGs will be back in September. Our exciting news is that we will be revamping our online platform to now track and report your SDG actions throughout the entire year! Make sure to stay tuned and and sign up for updates.
Keep engaging with us on social media
Use our Butterfly Wings to show your commitment to sustainability and the SDGs and tag us @SDGAction. We also want to hear what you are doing to create positive change — tell the world using our hashtag #TurnItAround.