News — April 10, 2018

Taking Action at the Global Festival

Story by Christie Albrecht, JCI Director of Partnerships and Corporate Strategy and Krissy Durant, JCI Senior Director of Membership Services



Young people are tired of talking. We're ready to act. 

That was a key message at the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development, a vibrant celebration of the work being done around the world to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. 

As an action partner, JCI joined more than 1,000 participants at the Festival to celebrate, empower, and connect the global community driving action for the Global Goals. 

After adopting Agenda 2030 in 2015, JCI members have committed to advancing the Global Goals through locally driven projects. We shared these stories and showcased the Peace is Possible campaign as a coordinated global effort to work together for world peace during a panel discussion hosted by JCI and also at the Festival's Knowledge and Innovation Fair. 

This unconventional conference was innovative at every turn. Here's some of the key lessons we learned while experiencing this Festival and interacting with its inspiring attendees.


We need innovation to advance the Global Goals

Every participant at the Festival had a story of impact to share. We need a diverse population of people from every corner of the globe working together and contributing their creativity and motivation to advancing these goals. 

We need storytellers, like Yusuf Omar, a mobile journalist and co-founder of Hashtag Our Stories who's passionate about teaching people everywhere how to tell their stories, and others like the Afrika Youth Movement Founder, Aya Chobbi , who shared, “Our generation is the most marginalized and unsafe ever, yet we are the most youthful and innovative. We must amplify the voices of young people and work together to accelerate change.”

We need artists, like filmmakers, photographers, and even beatboxers who used rap to express themselves  about the Global Goals, inspired by  conversations that took place during the Festival.

We need social scientists, like the UNDP's innovation department who shared their experience in applying innovation and experimentation to redesign the work of this UN agency. 

And we need ordinary citizens like you and me, all working together to do our part to achieve the Goals. 


We need inspiration

Aside from the mainstage events and workshops, the Festival also featured a nonstop parade of inspiring speakers at the SDG Studio, where SDG actors from businesses, government, NGOs, academia and the United Nations gathered between sessions to share their big ideas.

One inspiring innovator, Dr. Waheed Arian, the Founder of Arian Teleheal, shared in the SDG Studio, “I believe the basic foundation of all the global goals rely on personal dreams.” After all, it was his experience growing up in a refugee camp in war-torn Afghanistan that drove him to return to Kabul, Afghanistan years later as a doctor. Facing a broken health care system and security issues in the war zone, Dr. Arian found that telemedicine could overcome these challenges and effectively utilize the advanced health care systems in developed countries.

The SDG Action Awards featured innovators, mobilizers, connectors, storytellers, communicators, visualizers and includers who are doing extraordinary work to advance the Global Goals. The nearly 40 finalists and the seven winners showcased the possibilities for transformative action that is accelerating our progress to achieving the Global Goals. 

One of the winners, Road to Rights, is a project that started as a grassroots initiative in Sri Lanka to empower students to learn about and gain the capacity to advance the Global Goals. Now, active in 18 countries, creative tools such as art, sports, ICT and tourism are utilized to provide non-traditional learning that teaches future active citizens about their rights, responsibilities and goals. Founder Ashan Perera encouraged all Festival participants to, "Never give up. Everyone wants to help their family, their community and their country. We need to bring out that desire of everyone and transform it into action."


We need to tell the story

Communicating about the Global Goals is the responsibility of everyone.  We all have a voice and the tools necessary to share the importance of the Global Goals with our communities and our role in achieving them. 

"The people on the ground must be the voices of the Global Goals," Yusuf Omar told us during the Opening Plenary session. 

When we speak together, we have the opportunity to disrupt the mainstream conversations and draw the attention of the world to sustainable development. During the Closing Plenary, the Global Festival was trending on Twitter, proving that when we work together, we have the power to propel the conversation to larger audiences. 


To achieve the Global Goals by 2030, we need to accelerate action. Find ways to get involved in your community, to share our stories and to lead the change we want to see for our future. 

Talk about what you're doing and why you're doing it. Speak up loudly and often. Share the problems you see, and the solutions being created to better your community. 

Want to join the action? You're invited to next year's Festival. Follow the Global Festival of Action to stay updated on plans for next year's Festival, which will be held 6–9 March 2019 in Bonn, Germany. 

Check out the Festival's wrap up videos and stories to learn more about the Festival and the innovation happening for the Global Goals. 

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