It’s been more than four years since 193 countries signed onto the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the heart of that Agenda put forward a roadmap to a better world— of peace and prosperity for all on a thriving planet.
In 2020 we start the final Decade of Delivery knowing we are substantially off track to meet the Goals in full and on time. Doing so needs escalated action in every geography, sector, and demographic.
“Now is the time for bold leadership, both individual and collective,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at this year’s SDG Summit. He made it clear that achieving the SDGs will take global, local, and individual action.
Luckily, progress has already started across the world. In this blog post, we share the stories of local changemakers who have taken ownership of the SDGs. They are members of the +SocialGood community, a global network united around a shared vision for a better world by 2030.
SDG 1 – End Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere
Diepsloot, South Africa
Diepsloot translates loosely to “deep ditch” or “deep gutter.” It is also the name of a township in South Africa that over 500,000 people call home. Poor infrastructure and overpopulation have led to a sewage crisis. Insufficient bins and service delivery leaves litter lying everywhere.
However, the township’s citizens are taking action to change the situation. This year they hosted a +SocialGood meetup with Wot-if? Trust, where they worked to create a better environment with improved infrastructure, service delivery, and community cohesion.
“The children, local leadership, and community members are seeking action to change the dialogue around Diepsloot. They have a vision of home that isn’t defined by environmental destruction,” says Gail Styger, Founder and Trustee of the Wot-if? Trust.
The Wot-if? Trust has partnered with the local community to facilitate partnerships with the technology sector, to gather data to better understand the problems facing Diepsloot, and to lobby local government to take action. Together they are working to reduce illegal dumping, provide more dustbins and recycling facilities, and to work with schools and youth groups in education and awareness to achieve a cleaner, greener, healthier Diepsloot.
SDG 10 – Reduce Inequality Within and Among Countries
New Corella, Philippines
“Global problems are everyone’s problem. Big problems need collective actions. We cannot solve a problem in just one place and one at a time. The ground work of the community makes all the difference,” says 21-year-old +SocialGood Connector Clary Joy Manabat. Her social enterprise Green Rubber Footwear (GRub) tackles several important issues, from waste to inequality.
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are the world’s largest minority, comprising 15% of the global population. Due to discrimination and poverty, PWDs face major gaps in access to basic services, such as health care, education, employment, and transportation. Manabat and her teammates saw the dire situation facing PWDs in their community in the Philippines and decided to act. In January 2018, they founded GRub, a social enterprise that trains and employs PWDs to produce shoes.
GRub team is working towards progress by tackling several issues at the same time: Not only do they empower PWDs, they also are tackling the problem of fast fashion and environmental waste by creating eco-friendly slippers out of scrap tires and old textiles/jeans. In addition, for every pair of slippers sold, GRub gives a pair to underprivileged children in the community who can’t afford to buy slippers.
GRub aims to improve the quality of life of PWDs through economic empowerment and capacity building in New Corella, Davao Del Norte. They are working with ten artisans and have immersed themselves into the community to ensure they correctly address their employees’ and shoe recipients’ needs. In 2020, they are looking to expand their upcycled products to include pouches and wallets made from old jeans.
SDG 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls
When Alejandra Acosta was 18, she attended a conference about modern slavery. She was horrified to learn the extent of the problem, both around the world, and in her home country of Spain. Acosta felt that there were many other people in her community who, like her, didn’t understand the scale of the problem. To combat this, she decided to found Proyecto Break The Silence to create awareness about modern human trafficking, advocate for solutions, and collaborate with partners to protect victims.
Proyecto Break The Silence focuses on working with local partners, from high schoolers to politicians to business leaders, to find a solution to human trafficking. This year Proyecto Break The Silence trained 1,180 strategic targets, such as social workers, airlines employees, and police officers, to ensure they had the right tools to identify potential victims of human trafficking and to connect them with help.
“Fighting against trafficking requires everyone, not just politicians or civil society organizations. Business and their employees are key in this fight because with the right tools they have the possibility to literally save lives from exploitation,” says Acosta.In 2020, the organization is looking to scale up their efforts in order to reach another 12,000 children in vulnerable settings to prevent them from exploitation.
SDG 13: Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impacts
Federico Restrepo Sierra grew up in the Colombian city of Medellin. He remembers his childhood as one of an eternal spring, with clear, warm weather every day, or as he describes it: “Paradise!” Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Pollution has made the local weather warmer and created an air quality crisis. Restrepo Sierra knew he had to do something when his niece began to get sick due to the air pollution and had to be taken from the city.
He identified electric cars as a way to address this growing problem. Every car converted from oil-powered to electric run prevents, on average, two tons of carbon dioxide from going into the environment. Restrepo Sierra co-founded Energia Vectorial to make the transition from oil-run cars to electric vehicles more affordable for the everyday citizen of Colombia.
In 2019, Energia Vectorial successfully converted enough cars to successfully prevent more than 25 tons of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. Next year they hope to expand to become the first laboratory for electric mobility in Colombia. Restrepo Sierra envisions a nation full of charging stations, electric corporate and taxi fleets, and other forms of clean mobility. “I have always said that we have to find solutions that fit our reality. As cities in developing countries, we have to create our own solutions, as we do not have the same resources as ‘developed countries,’” says Restrepo Sierra.
Make your new year’s resolution count
Leaders like Federico, Alejandra, Gail, and Clary are acting every day to make their communities safer, healthier, and happier. Imagine a decade in which we matched their energy, using the skills and resources we have. If you’re looking for inspiration for New Year’s resolutions in 2020, take the time to reflect on the ways you can help drive progress – in your community, and for the world. Commit to taking that extra step. Together, we can work to ensure that in 2020 we help jumpstart the Decade of Delivery.
Want more stories of inspiration? Local leaders around the world share them with +SocialGood.