Africa leads as Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and Kenya win first SDGs action awards

Winners of the first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards (PHOTO: UN SDGs)
Winners of the first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards (PHOTO: UN SDGs)

The continent of Africa came out tops as the winners of the first United Nations SDG Action Awards were announced this Wednesday by the UN SDG Action Campaign.

Of all the eight winners who demonstrated extraordinary momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in different corners of the earth, four came from African countries namely Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.

Other winners came Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, USA and Belgium.

The awards ceremony was held in tandem with the second edition of the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, and honored initiatives in the categories of communicator, connector, includer, innovator, mobilizer, storyteller, and visualizer.

“These are ‘Action’ Awards because we need more than words: our winners dared to believe and act for change. They are perfect examples of the wonderful work that’s happening around the world led by thousands, if not millions, of people”, said Mitchell Toomey, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign.

The winning initiatives are fighting corruption in Nigeria, mobilizing Belgians to implement the SDGs in their daily lives, empowering children through photography and digital skills in Bangladesh, promoting human rights education in Sri Lanka and much more. Evidencing the multi-sectoral engagement to achieve the SDGs, the winners span over private and public sectors, as well as civil society and grassroots movements.

Over 700 nominations from 125 countries in 7 continents were submitted. An expert judging panel evaluated submissions against the degree to which actions were deemed to be transformative, inclusive and impactful.

In addition, an open vote was held on the website of the UN SDG Action Campaign where visitors could rate their favorite among the 38 finalists to win the People’s Choice Award.

“Great solutions for the world’s challenges can come from anywhere. We hope everyone is inspired by these stories and consider submitting their nominations for future Awards. These are the first winners of a community that will continue to grow”, said Toomey.

The four awardees from Africa all displayed talent and commitment to the implementation of the SDGs despite challenging situations and circumstances in their countries.

Includer award: Youth Power Accountability Advocates / Restless Development – Ghana
Since 2015, this initiative has provided Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to over 1,000 teenagers and educated 40 rural mothers on maternal health in Ghana. Some of the girls who benefitted from the education and services were able to avoid pregnancy and stay in school.

Innovator award: “Creative Youth Initiative Against Corruption (CYIAC) Corruption Busters” – Nigeria           The CYIAC anti-corruption awareness campaign “CYIAC Corruption Busters (CCB)” targeted the general public in Nigeria to draw attention to corrupt practices associated with their everyday life and its unimaginable negative impact on individuals and society. So far, it has reached over 1 million people through the CCB TV channel, social media engagement and “Corruption Busters goes to School”, a special school programme.

Mobilizer award: SDG Youth Morocco – Morocco
Working to pave the way towards achieving the Agenda 2030 in the North-African country and the rest of the region, this initiative was created to express Moroccan youth’s engagement towards reaching the 17 Goals, with the aim to educate and empower Moroccans to achieve Agenda 2030, through the initiation and facilitation of partnerships between government officials, civil society institutions, youth voices and the UN SDG Action Campaign to break barriers.

Visualizer award: Global Goals for Local Impact / Open Institute – Kenya 
The changemakers behind this project have collected Citizen Generated Data from every household in Lanet Umoja, Kenya, on all aspects relating to the SDGs, including security, food, agriculture, livelihoods, education, health, energy, water and sanitation. They have worked with community leaders in Kenya so they could understand the value of data in identifying the development gaps and the needs that they must address in order to achieve the SDGs.

SDG Action campaign

The UN SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN-Secretary General, administered by the UNDP to create awareness about the 2030 Agenda, empower and inspire people across the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while generating political will, and help make the Goals attainable by 2030.

The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is the world´s annual event to celebrate, empower, and connect the global community driving Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organised by the UN SDG Action Campaign with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Festival connects an inspiring mix of business leaders, activists, UN representatives, academia, governments, innovators, global organisations, and the media from across the globe.

Taking place in Bonn each year, the Festival provides a dynamic and interactive space to showcase the latest innovations, tools, and approaches to SDG action and connect organizations and individuals from different sectors and regions to exchange, build partnerships, and make the impact of their solutions scale.


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