In Rome, United Nations Sustainability Awards Take Prime Time Spotlight at Global Food Summit

UN SDG Action Campaign
5 min readJul 20, 2023

Amid the UN Food Systems Summit +2, the UN SDG Action Awards will gather global delegates, sustainability leaders, and celebrities for an evening of SDG excellence

ROME, Italy — The stage is set as global leaders for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) descend on Rome, Italy, for the 2023 United Nations SDG Action Awards, where activists, mobilizers, and changemakers will be celebrated and recognized for their work in scaling up sustainability and social justice efforts around the world, the UN SDG Action Campaign has announced.

Dubbed the “Oscars of the SDGs,” this year’s edition will take place in the Italian capital on 24 July on the margins of the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment, which will be hosted by the Government of Italy, and in partnership with the three Rome-based UN agencies — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) — as well as the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub and the wider UN system. Among the eight Finalists and one Honourable Mention who will be recognized in Rome are IFAD Goodwill Ambassadors Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Green Obsession, World Cleanup Day, and the International Rescue Committee’s Signpost initiative, among others. The Awards will also feature live musical performances by Malian actress, singer and environmental activist Inna Modja, Nigerian singer-songwriter Cill, and Italian singer Levante.

“The UN SDG Action Awards offers us an opportunity to honour the extraordinary individuals who are inspiring change and are bringing all of us one step closer to a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable future,” said Marina Ponti, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

“As we approach the midpoint of Agenda 2030, this year’s Awards play a critical role in reminding everyone to unite to act for the SDGs, as there is nothing human creativity cannot achieve when we come together with a clear vision and a sense of urgency. The Awards Finalists who join us in Rome are a testament that a sustainable future is possible.”

The 2023 edition of the Awards received over 5,000 high-quality applications from 190 countries covering the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s eight Finalists include an inspiring array of individuals and organizations that span the gamut of individual action and organizational purpose. In the MOBILIZE category, for instance, the global World Cleanup Day initiative is nominated for its work in coordinating global one-day waste cleanups that have rallied over 70 million people from more than 190 countries. Meanwhile, Africa-based ImpactHER has mobilized and trained over 7.5 million women entrepreneurs across 53 African countries to unlock their economic potential and fight poverty.

Similarly, Finalists in the CONNECT category also exemplify the SDGs in action. The International Rescue Committee’s Signpost initiative is nominated for being the world’s first scalable approach to running digital, community-driven, and responsive information platforms in countries where people are impacted by conflict, disasters, poverty, and violence. At the same time, Brazil-based Youth Parliament is recognized for its work empowering youth for civic life and democratic engagement, reaching five cities across the South American country and impacting 11,000 individuals.

And in the INSPIRE category, Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Green Obsession is acknowledged for its work changing city paradigms and emphasizing urban forests as a priority for governments around the world, ensuring a greener future for all. It is matched up against another urban climate initiative, Buenos Aires Climate Action, which aims to inspire and engage citizens of Buenos Aires in climate action with the vision of becoming a carbon-neutral, resilient, and inclusive city by 2050.

The UN SDG Action Awards will also designate the 2023 Changemaker — an award accorded to an individual whose contribution to improving the lives of people in their community has had a particular impact in line with SDGs. This year’s Finalists are Nery Santaella, who is recognized for her Voices of Venezuela initiative which, through a migrants-helping-migrants model, has helped over 600,000 individuals, and Nazir Atul and Emmanuel Mushy, who are nominated for their visionary leadership in co-founding VAS Hub, a collaborative project that aims to reduce youth unemployment and engagement in informal/unproductive sectors. In addition, in the Honourable Mention category, celebrity couple Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba will be honoured for their work as IFAD Goodwill Ambassadors and their role in bringing agriculture into the media agenda.

The Awards ceremony will be broadcast live to a global audience on RaiPlay, in the six official UN languages through UN WebTV, and on UN SDG Action Campaign social media feeds.

“At the UN SDG Action Campaign, our work is dedicated to mobilizing and inspiring actions around the SDGs. Indeed, 2022 was a seminal year for us as we mobilized nearly 150 million people around the world to take action for a more sustainable world. This year we are on track to repeating the effort,” Ms. Ponti continued. “In that context, the UN SDG Action Awards is a way to acknowledge and celebrate those individuals and organizations that make a difference on core issues such as climate action, gender equality, and building inclusive societies, as they unite to act for sustainable development everywhere.”

The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General hosted by the Executive Office of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). It was established to unite people from across the world to take action for the SDGs and to connect civil society, local governments, and people working in the arts and culture, media, and private sectors in championing the SDGs in homes, communities and beyond. In that role, the Campaign is mandated to MOBILIZE, INSPIRE, AND CONNECT people and organizations from all sectors and geographies to take action to achieve the SDGs, including through the annual UN SDG Action Awards.

For more information and interview opportunities:

Andrew Zaganelli Giacalone

Lead, Communications & Outreach | andrew.giacalone@undp.org

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UN SDG Action Campaign

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