Why put the SDGs on a beer mat?
On 25 September 2018, it will be three years since the global community adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development along with its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). But hardly anyone knows about them in Germany, or in many other countries. Creative thinkers around the globe have now developed innovative campaigns to make the SDGs better known.
It is not only politicians and industry that are called on to realise the 2030 Agenda – the citizens of the world too must do their bit to translate the 17 SDGs into reality. There has never before been a participatory approach on this scale that embraces the entire population of the world. People have so far, however, been slow to get involved. It’s not that people don’t want to support the sustainable development goals. Most people simply don’t know anything about them.
According to a report published by DEval (the German Institute for Development Evaluation), fewer than 10 per cent of Germans claim to know what the SDGs say. “The German population is sceptical as to whether the 17 SDGs can be achieved by 2030. They feel it is most likely that sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) could be achieved, while it is felt least likely that poverty can be eradicated (SDG 1),” according to the DEval report.
The 17 SDGs are coming to the people
To change this, not only are an increasing number of German schoolchildren hearing more about the SDGs; visitors to pubs and festivalgoers are also being introduced to the goals.
On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Engagement Global aims to introduce young people in particular to the sustainable development goals in an entertaining, practical and tangible way, under #17Ziele – rather than offering complex, pompous or globe-spanning explanations.
The SDGs are a communicative challenge
Communicating the sustainable development goals is no easy task. Even experts have their difficulties when it comes to listing all 17 goals. Then there are the 169 targets, many of which are very abstract and far removed from people’s everyday life. “We need to relate the SDGs to people’s lives and make it clear why the goals affect them too,” says Kristina Löhr of Engagement Global’s small #17Ziele project team. Simple, practical tips for sustainable consumers on Instagram, short YouTube videos or a life-size SDG Jenga game are good ways of doing this, she continues. In this way people can be encouraged to get involved and accept responsibility.
When Kristina Löhr is on the road with the SDG-mobile, she can see for herself how young people in particular in Germany really care about sustainability – with respect to consumer choices, mobility and environmental protection. “The SDGs offer them a framework for their environmental awareness and their commitment. Many of them react very positively when they hear about the 2030 Agenda for the first time,” she observes.
International campaigns for the SDGs
At international level too, a lot is going on to raise the profile of the sustainable development goals. The United Nations has launched an “SDG Action Campaign” which aims to sensitise people around the globe, encourage them to take a pro-active stance and get involved in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Many governments, cities and non-governmental organisations have also launched their own innovative projects.
A heart for the 17 goals
The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to making the SDGs better known, because it is not only a battle for the minds. People’s hearts too must be won over. Only then will perhaps 20 per cent of Germans be familiar with the SDGs by 2020. That would mean doubling the 2017 figure, which would be a huge success – and campaigns like the SDG beer mats, inter-town competitions and poetry slams help. “Compete and save the world” is the motto!
Which of the ideas laid out above do you like best? Do you know of any other good ways of making the SDGs more widely known? Share these and your own ideas in the Community group on Sustainability!