5 Ways to Support the SDGs During Global Goals Week
By Devin Hibbard
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, put forth a bold agenda to advance equality and social uplift around the world, with powerful targets that include eradicating poverty and ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls globally by 2030.
With less than a decade left to realize the promise of the SDGs, the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it new challenges. Millions of people have been forced back into poverty as a result of the pandemic, with women and girls being the hardest hit. According to Fast Company and the Gates Foundation, an additional 31 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty due to COVID-19. But often lost in headlines about backslides on the SDGs is the fact that we all still have ample opportunity to take action to push progress forward. What if we can seize this moment of shared experience to catalyze even greater action to meet the SDGs?
We at Street Business School partner with NGOs and community groups around the world to help them employ our entrepreneurial training program for women living in poverty, which has been shown to sustainably triple women’s incomes by giving them the tools they need to launch their own businesses. We and our partners are collectively working to achieve 16 of the 17 SDGs. And you don’t have to be part of a formal organization in order to take action.
As we mark Global Goals Week, check out these five simple ways anyone can do their part to advance social, economic, and gender equality in their communities and around the world.
1. Attend an event
Most Global Goals Week events have moved online as organizers do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but there are still plenty of ways to get involved to support the SDGs from the safety of your own home. Check out the event calendar for action campaigns, livestream sessions and virtual conferences happening every day from now through September 26.
2. Check out the SDG Action Zone
The SDG Action Zone is a three-day virtual event showcasing changemakers working to achieve the SDGs — including U.N. leaders, activists, government officials and business leaders. Held during the U.N. General Assembly, topics on the program include COVID-19 vaccine equity, combating systemic racism, mitigating the climate crisis, and ensuring equal rights for women and girls.
Attendees can submit questions to the speakers directly on the platform as they’re watching a session, and a selection will be posed to speakers at the end of each day’s program. You can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #SDGActionZone2021 and #ForPeopleForPlanet.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST on September 22, 23 and 24. Anyone can attend, and registration is free.
3. Take one of 170 small actions to advance the SDGs
The U.N.’s Be the Change campaign calls on individuals to take one of 170 small actions to advance the SDGs. These include volunteering (virtually or in person), making a donation to a nonprofit or community group, teaching a skill to someone who could use it, and many more.
You can also register your actions on a global heat map to help organizers demonstrate the power of working together to create collective change to advance the SDGs, or post them to social media using the hashtags #Act4SDGs and #YouNeedtoKnow.
4. Act on climate change
As part of Global Goals Week, the U.N. ActNow campaign calls on every one of us to make small changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and influence change in the fight against the climate crisis.
Download the ActNow app for iOS or Android, and log the small actions you take to lessen your carbon footprint — from choosing a bicycle or public transport, to cutting down on food waste, to conserving energy at home. You can also check out new sustainability tips and participate in community climate action challenges with just a few taps on the app.
More than 3.5 million individual climate actions have been logged on the app and the chatbot on the ActNow website so far.
5. Bear witness to the ongoing fight for progress
We can’t overstate how important it is to make time to understand the perspectives and experiences of people who are different from you.
Of course we all want to see global poverty end and everyone to be treated equally, but if issues of poverty and inequality do not affect us or those we love, it’s easy for us to begin viewing those who are affected as “the other” — those who need our pity, our sympathy or our help. People who face extreme poverty, discrimination and injustice don’t need our pity. They are fighting every day to better themselves, their families and their communities. We know because we’re fortunate enough to work with many of them.
As you look to do your part to advance the SDGs this Global Goals Week, just take a few minutes to bear witness to the resilience, tenacity, and strength of our brothers and sisters around the world.
The U.N.’s beautiful short film We the Goalkeepers — which features the stories of young changemakers from Kampala, Uganda, to Kavre, Nepal, set to a reading of Indian youth poet Aranya Johar’s poem by the same name — is a great place to start. You can also read some of the stories of the courageous and resilient women we work with at Street Business School — including Harriet Nakibuuka, who grew her tomato business into one of the major tomato suppliers in one of the major business districts in Kampala, and Esther Wanja, a single mother who went from just getting by working nights at a fish factory to starting her own line of snack stands and establishing a microfinance business to help other women entrepreneurs in her community — and you’re sure to be inspired.
Learn more about ways to support the SDGs by engaging with Street Business School.