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The UN SDG Action Awards are back!

BY 17 June 2024

Billie Dumaliang (THE MASUNGI STORY) WINNER 2022 INSPIRE
Sabrina Dhowre Elba, 2023 UN SDG Action Awards Honourable Mention
Alicia Pepe, 2023 UN SDG Action Awards Connect Winner
Past winners
Heidi Solba, 2023 UN SDG Action Awards Mobilize Winner
Nery Santaella, 2023 UN SDG Action Awards Changemaker Winner
Past winners
past winners
Action Awards ceremony 2023
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Do you want to be the next 2024 UN SDG Action Awards winner?

About the UN SDG Action Awards

The UN SDG Action Awards, a signature programme of the UN SDG Action Campaign, champions initiatives and committed individuals who are wielding the power of creativity and innovation to bring us closer to a more sustainable, equitable and peaceful world.

Anyone can mobilize action and achieve impact, even in the most challenging places and times. The campaign is committed to showcasing heroes changing the world, and sending a message of hope and infinite possibilities.  

Each year, a high-level Panel of Judges and a technical review team consider over 5,000 applications and nominations from 190 countries. They select Finalists and then the Winners.

All Finalists (three for each award category) are invited to a one-day Induction Programme prior to the Ceremony offering creative workshops, skills development sessions and networking events. The UN SDG Action Awards Ceremony unveils and celebrates the winners with music, art and inspiring messages from leaders from all backgrounds and regions of the world. 

The 2024 Induction Programme and Awards Ceremony will take place at the end of October in Rome, Italy. It will reach global and national audiences through UN WebTV and television and radio broadcasts in partnership with Rai, Italy’s public national broadcaster, which provides artistic, editorial and production support.

The UN SDG Action Awards programme is made possible by the generous financial support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

2024 Categories

Apply with your initiatives

Creativity Award

We are looking for extraordinary campaigns that, through the power of creativity, have galvanized SDG action. Such campaigns have achieved measurable results in shifting people’s behaviours and public perceptions and/or influencing policies and budgetary allocations to achieve more sustainable, equitable and peaceful societies—the vision of the SDGs. They have successfully leveraged a creative medium, including music, art, poetry, digital and multimedia, theatre, documentaries, dance, street art and any other form of creative expression, to advance the goals and/or promote human rights.

Creativity

Award

We are looking for extraordinary campaigns that, through the power of creativity, have galvanized SDG action. Such campaigns have achieved measurable results in shifting people’s behaviours and public perceptions and/or influencing policies and budgetary allocations to achieve more sustainable, equitable and peaceful societies—the vision of the SDGs. They have successfully leveraged a creative medium, including music, art, poetry, digital and multimedia, theatre, documentaries, dance, street art and any other form of creative expression, to advance the goals and/or promote human rights. Apply

Impact

Award

We are looking for outstanding initiatives that, through innovative approaches tackling current challenges, have achieved significant, measurable impacts in improving people’s lives and accelerating progress towards SDG achievement. Impact implies remarkable improvements in knowledge, skills, empowerment, inclusion, behaviours, health and/or living conditions. Impact can be measured by several indicators, including economic, sociocultural, institutional, environmental and/or technological. Apply

Impact Award

We are looking for outstanding initiatives that, through innovative approaches tackling current challenges, have achieved significant, measurable impacts in improving people’s lives and accelerating progress towards SDG achievement. Impact implies remarkable improvements in knowledge, skills, empowerment, inclusion, behaviours, health and/or living conditions. Impact can be measured by several indicators, including economic, sociocultural, institutional, environmental and/or technological.

(Self-)Nominate outstanding individuals

Changemaker

Award

We are looking for exceptional individuals who have made a difference in their communities and societies. They are the movers and the shakers but also the people quietly working behind the scenes to make a difference. A changemaker imagines a new reality, and then acts and collaborates with others to make it happen. A changemaker stands up for equality, justice and human rights, and leads movements to rewire our world and light up the SDGs. Changemakers are identified through nominations or self-nominations. (Self-) NOMINATE

Changemaker Award

We are looking for exceptional individuals who have made a difference in their communities and societies. They are the movers and the shakers but also the people quietly working behind the scenes to make a difference. A changemaker imagines a new reality, and then acts and collaborates with others to make it happen. A changemaker stands up for equality, justice and human rights, and leads movements to rewire our world and light up the SDGs. Changemakers are identified through nominations or self-nominations.

Watch the highlights video of the 2023 UN SDG Action Awards Ceremony

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CHANGEMAKER

Srishti Bakshi

Srishti Bakshi is a marketer-turned-women’s-rights-activist, who embarked on 3,800km pilgrimage over 240 days across India. She met over a hundred thousand people sensitizing them to her country’s gender-based violence and inequality. Srishti not only put a spotlight on the causes of violence against women but also empowered women she conducted over 100 workshops focused on women’s safety and encouraging them to be financially independent. After her epic on-foot journey, she created a documentary film revealing untold stories of courage, WOMB: Women Of My Billion. The documentary film has been featured in over 15 prestigious international film festivals and has won 11 audience choice awards
Our judges were quite simply in awe of Srishti’ story – sharing that her work is a shining example of the change that can be created through bold and determined action. When women are supported and allowed to reach their full potential, their entire communities move forward, and it was clear to all that Srishti’s work has done just that, showing how collaboration can lead to groundbreaking initiatives that pursue not only one but multiple SDGs at a time. Our judges can’t wait to follow Srishti’s story and salute her efforts, wishing her every success in her journey ahead, and hope her actions continue to shape the dreams of many more women around India.

CONNECT

CyprusInno

CyprusInno an initiative which fosters peacebuilding through youth innovation – they demonstrate that even the most complex, global, long-standing challenges can be solved through peaceful and innovative means. Their Center is one of the first innovation spaces in the world located in a demilitarized zone, one where Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots from the last divided capital in Europe come together every day to work and break barriers.
Our judges praised this initiative for demonstrating the power of ideas to alter the course of progress and sustainability as we know it and noted the power of this approach to be replicated in other countries and regions with divisions – a true example of transforming the way we do things, that others can learn from. And as we know, there can be no Agenda 2030 without peace.

INSPIRE

The Masungi Story

The Masungi Story – youth rewriting the future of forgotten watersheds at Masungi Geosreserve. The team are transforming watersheds to fight deforestation through geotourism and have shown that a small group of young people, through their courage, creativity and energy, can form coalitions and bring about transformational change for the nation. They flip the script by showing that tourism does not have to impact our environment negatively – it can become a powerful force for good.
Our judges commended this youth-led movement that protects our most precious natural resources, for being strong and bold enough to participate in national legislative inquiries and direct lobbying. They commended the team for going above and beyond through their engagement with the general public; the creativity of their successful storytelling, and expressed deep admiration for the courage and engagement of these activists, rangers and passionate environmental defenders. It recognises the importance of building allies through lobbying and tourism campaigns to be central to real sustainability. This deeply holistic change is how sustainable change happens.

MOBILISE

SUPvivors SAY NO MORE - ECUADOR

SUPvivors say NO MORE – are empowering sexual abuse survivors in Ecuador to become ‘SUPER survivors’ to realise their potential as agents of change. The campaign has reached 11 million Ecuadorians and inspired hundreds of thousands of survivors to speak up, putting the issue in the public arena and generating a domino effect that uncovered thousands of cases of sexual abuse that were hidden in impunity. These actions have generated so much social pressure that national authorities recognized the importance of tackling sexual abuse by making statistics more accessible and initiating programs to improve the response to victims.

Our judges were deeply impressed by the strength that Ecuador Says No More gives to former victims of child sexual abuse to learn that they are not alone. They commended this award-worthy initiative for upholding the very definition of a successful mobilization campaign, delivering critical information to hundreds of thousands of people, breaking down the barrier of stigmatization for vulnerable groups, and communicating the need for legislation to protect children from the horrors of abuse.

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to four successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms. Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.

MAME BALLA

ARTIST, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MUSIC ENTERTAINER, PRODUCER

Mame Balla is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, and music producer based in Europe who sings about peace, environmental issues, the experiences of growing up in West Africa and more.

Mame Balla has worked with Bouba Ndour, producer and brother of the famous singer Youssou Ndour, with whom he released two internationally successful albums. Between his solo career and the former music groups Dancehall Masters and Darou Salam, Mame Balla has partnered with international artists of different music genres such as Senegalese pop singer Viviane, dancer Ndeye Geye, hip hop group Gokh-Bi System, and Dutch-Albanese rapper Jon Tarifa. He has also partnered with Polish and German artists for a jazz project, and performed with Congolese afrobeat singers in the Netherlands. Between 1999 and 2004, Mame Balla and his former group Dancehall Masters received awards as Best New Group and Best Group in The Gambia; and also received the prize Prix de l’intégration at a Senegalese hip-hop awards. Mame Balla took a course in music production at the State of Mic Studio in The Gambia. Performing with Pape Samory and Issa Ndiaye. 

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

CULTURAL ARCHITECT, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST AND PERFORMANCE ARTIST

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile is an international award-winning cultural architect, communications specialist, performance artist, development practitioner and human rights advocate. OkayAfrica named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women of African Descent in 2018. Her accolades include being nominated for the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, a TED Fellow, Queen’s Young Leader, Chevening Scholar, Mandela Washington Fellow, and OutRight’s UN Religion Fellow. She holds a Sociology Masters in Human Rights, Culture, and Social Justice, with a focus on Disability Rights and Public Space Design, from Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Her published writing spans theatre, academic texts and policy analyses. 

MARINA PONTI

DIRECTOR OF THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN
Ms. Ponti is the Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign since July 2018.
 
Prior, Ms. Ponti served as Global Deputy Director and Regional Director for Europe for over a decade and was at the vanguard of innovative campaign initiatives, building multi-stakeholder coalitions, mobilizing resources and forging long-term partnerships between civil society organizations, local government, parliamentarians, media, the private sector and the UN.
Ms. Ponti served as an advocacy and resource mobilization specialist with UNICEF and the UN Secretariat. She also was Chief Operating Officer of Catapult -a girls and women’s right crowdfunding platform and as Special Advisor on post-2015 during the final negotiations of the Agenda 2030 for the global network Social Watch.
 
Ms. Ponti holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Milan and has completed an executive education programme from INSEAD in Global Management, Finance and Partnerships.

Ulrika Modéer

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms. Ulrika Modéer officially began her role on 20 August 2018 as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. In this role she leads the organization in nurturing and growing key relationships with Member States, and new and emerging partners, as well as lead UNDP’s communications and advocacy, as it works to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Modéer previously served as Sweden’s State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and Climate and has been instrumental in reshaping the country’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She combines a strong policy background with parliamentary and civil society experience and has had several assignments in Latin America (Bolivia, Guatemala) and Africa (Mozambique/South Africa). Ms. Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

TOLU OLUBUNMI

FOUNDER AND CEO, LIONS WRITE

Tolu Olubunmi is a Nigerian-born, American-raised chemical engineer turned political strategist, social entrepreneur and public speaker. She is the founder and CEO of the social impact venture, Lions Write. In 2018, Tolu was tapped by the Director-General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for a special appointment as Advisor to the UN Department of Global Communications and Manager of the Climate Action Campaign ActNow.  Tolu has established and led numerous NGOs and campaigns focused on education, migration, economic inclusion, sustainability, and climate change. She has worked closely with leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society to shift culture, influence public policy and build strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships – she served on the World Economic Forum’s Migration Council, co-founded Immigrant Heritage Month, and has helped draft and implement U.S. immigration policies.  

Tolu sits on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League, Board of Directors of USA for IOM. In 2015, the World Economic Forum named her one of 15 Women Changing the World and an Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur. Her inspiring personal story and work have been profiled by several media outlets, including BBC, MSNBC, TIME, CBS, US News and World Report. Tolu is an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress and holds a chemistry-engineering degree from Washington and Lee University. 

His Excellency Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari

Director General

Qatar Fund for Development

Since 2014, Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari has led the establishment, strategy-setting, partnerships, and funding programs of the Qatar Fund for Development in developing countries. Previously, Mr. Al-Kuwari was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director – Joint Venture and International Business of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed to the boards of leading organisations, including: Harrods, Volkswagen Group, Fairmont Raffles Group, Songbird Real Estate, Qatar Exchange, Katara Hospitality, and Mowasalat. He holds an Executive MBA in Business Administration from the London Business School, an MBA in Accounting from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Qatar University. He graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School and Qatar Leadership Center.