I had the great privilege of taking part in the Social Good Summit in New York City. As I write this on my trip back to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I find myself reflecting on ways that we can “localize” the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the end of the day, that will make the difference as to whether #2030Now will be a hashtag or a reality. Ambassador Samantha Power said it best when she talked about how we can change our own “corners of the world.” The SDGs belong to us all.
In exploring the 17 different goals, I have found that it underscores the fact that we are all so connected in this global community. It is true that our families, school districts, cities, and countries will all address the goals in different ways, but here’s the amazing thing: moving the needle forward on any of the Global Goals will benefit not just a specific community, but the entire globe. What’s positive for children in Aleppo is positive for children in Atlanta. Environmental progress in one country is our shared progress as a global society. Our communities are intimately woven in a web – why not make it a web of social good?
As a county child welfare worker, social media blogger, and local elected official, my question has been, what can we do? At the grassroots level, what role do we play?
Throughout my time at the Social Good Summit and interacting with national/global change makers, I have compiled a list of a few ways that we can get started in realizing #2030Now:
1. “Always ask questions”
Henry Timms shared this nugget of wisdom at the start of day two of the summit. Let’s be inquisitive, always seeking to elevate our understanding. The first step in progress is not to see the world as it is, but rather how it should be.
2. Amplify the voices of the girls and women in your life – make them heard.
“If somebody is telling you that you can’t – actually, you can.” Connie Britton shared her experience as a global advocate and goodwill ambassador during the summit. She went on to explain that communities are changed when women are given support and encouragement to be strong and know their power. We can all help girls feel inspired and emboldened to use their voice. GirlUp with the UN Foundation has an online advocacy toolkit and app, training opportunities, and other resources to enable you to advocate for women and girls on your campus or in your community.
3. Advocate on the issues that matter to you... and no, you don’t need a lobbying license.
Just this week in the United States, the FDA approved a muscular dystrophy drug that passionate kids and families lobbied for. No matter what issues you are passionate about, make sure that your elected representatives understand your values! Hold them accountable.
4. Host a #GlobalGoalsLab with @Plus_SocialGood
You don’t have to wait for the next UN event or another summit to convene. You can host a local Global Goals Lab in your local community. This is an excellent opportunity to meet change agents where they are and help them turn their innovations for supporting the Sustainable Development Goals into regional solutions. Click here to learn more
5. Help Get Kids Active in your Local Community.
Nike and Colin O’Brady were spot-on when they talked about this at the Summit. Nike is working to get 12 million kids active around the world. Play is a key part of child development, and active kids have been found to score up to 40% higher on tests. This issue is something that will have a broad impact on all of the Sustainable Development Goals. This week, you could become a local mentor for youth, or volunteer coach an intramural! Click here to learn more
6. Support the #LearningGeneration
Dr. Amel Karboul spoke to us at the summit about achieving quality education for children around the world. It is clear that the time is now to create a #LearningGeneration. Follow @educommission and read more. The ultimate success of the #LearningGeneration and its global implementation will depend on the ability of empowered citizens to hold their leaders accountable. If successful, the #LearningGeneration will be the largest expansion of global educational opportunity in history.
7. Change the conversation on Refugees.
When the topic of refugees comes up at the dinner table or out with friends, help to reframe the conversation. 50% of the worlds refugees are children. Refugee children and migrant children are #childrenfirst. You can learn more about #ChildrenFirst at Unicef.org and pay-it-forward by a donation through Google Social Good. “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela.
8. Think Globally, Act Locally.
Look at the Sustainable Development Goals through a local lens. What challenges do you face in your community? What gaps need to be filled in? This could mean mentoring a child, volunteering at a food bank, or engaging in local sustainability initiatives – to name a few. Maybe it could mean running for office! For me, it means working on founding a home for displaced and homeless youth in Eau Claire. What does it mean for you?
9. Sustainable Seafood
During the summit, @NatGeo Photographer Brian Skerry talked about overfishing, and presented open ocean aquaculture as a sustainable solution for feeding the world while protecting the ecosystem. When you are ordering seafood at a restaurant, ask: “Do you serve sustainable seafood?” Let your favorite businesses (big and small) know that ocean-friendly and sustainable seafood matters to you.
10. Download The SDG App!
Just a few days ago, the United Nations launched the “Sustainable Development Goals in Action” mobile app. The app will bring the SDGs and solutions closer to people and help make them more relatable to everyday life. App users can tailor their experience based on the SDGs that are of the greatest interest to them and can sign up to receive notifications about those specific goals. You will also be able to socially network and interact with others around the world, find local events to join in supporting the goals, and create ‘actions’ in your community. Very exciting!
11. Tweet. Pin. Like. Share. Blog. Livestream. Repost. Get informed.
Social media can be an algorithm to make you smarter and more engaged - if you let it. As Elizabeth Gore shared during the summit, technology can be the great equalizer and maximize global efficiency. We can help realize that potential through the power of the purse, the conventional media we subscribe to, and quality engagement online.
This list is certainly not the “be all, end all,” but it’s a start. UNDP Administrator Helen Clark put it best when she said, “you are all a part of the plan. We can only do this if we believe it is possible.” I believe this is possible. I am ready to do all that I can to make #2030Now a reality. Are you?