The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) supports the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by mobilizing a network of over 900 universities and research institutions. While our work engages people across the globe, the SDSN New York staff recognizes that we can do more to support SDG awareness and action in our own community here in the city. Through a new initiative called SDGs in the City, SDSN staff will inform the general public, engage businesses, and excite children living and working in New York about the SDGs.
The SDGs in the City Program is an ambitious plan to empower different audiences within the New York City community to implement the SDGs locally, focusing on audiences with which SDSN is not engaged in its everyday work. We aim to provide the knowledge and tools they need to make sustainable changes in their personal and professional lives. We are currently organizing around three streams of work through which New Yorkers can learn about and implement the SDGs:
1. SDGs on the Streets: SDSN will showcase the SDGs in the City Program through a series of community engagement activities that include hosting a booth at Car Free Earth Day on Saturday, April 27 and the Summer Streets Festival that occurs on the first three Saturdays of August. The booth will distribute information about the SDGs and the opportunities of the SDGs in the City Program to passers-by and will feature an “SDG wheel” that participants can spin to reveal an SDG-related action they can take to advance a particular SDG. Engagement will be incentivized through prize offerings, and participants will be encouraged to post on social media for additional message amplification.
2. SDG Explorers Club: The SDG Explorers Club takes New York area children (and adults!)on a scavenger hunt across the five boroughs to discover the SDGs in museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions. SDSN will partner with institutions to help them identify exhibits, collections, or items that align with the SDGs, which will then be marked with the appropriate SDG icon. Visitors will receive an SDG Explorers Club Passport to keep track of the SDGs they discover, and will be encouraged to share pictures of what they discover by tagging an SDG Explorers Club social media account or using the hashtag #SDGExplorers. SDG Explorers can also contribute their own favorite exhibits, collections, or cultural locations to a crowdsourced map of SDG-related content in the city, adding even more opportunities for SDGs Explorers to collect all 17 SDGs.
3. SDG Lunch and Learns: SDSN will contribute to inform NYC’s private sector to advance SDG knowledge sharing and capacity building. The team will offer small, informal knowledge sharing sessions in the well-established model of Lunch and Learns, which aim to expose employees to interesting topics or help them learn new skills. Presentations will include general SDG knowledge and specific SDG-relevant information or recommendations based either on the industry in which they work or the offices in which they operate. Alternatively, the team can offer more remote/less time-bound knowledge sharing through the dissemination of existing, curated toolkits and resources on businesses and the SDGs.
Car Free Earth Day
As an inaugural activity, SDSN will participate in Car Free Earth Day on Saturday, April 27th. Broadway will be closed to automobile traffic from Times Square to Union Square, and will feature art installations, activities, and booths from community organizations.
The SDSN booth will be staffed by SDSN team members and will feature a spinning wheel with SDGs, from which participants will spin for an SDG and be challenged to complete the personal action items that SDSN has picked out related to that SDG. After one month, SDSN will collect the social media handles from those who successfully completed their action, and then enter them into a raffle where five participants will each win two tickets to ICSD, the newest book signed by Jeffrey Sachs, and an SDG t-shirt. Read the full competition rules here.
The goal is to engage the public in the SDG framework and inspire a behavior change with a single action. SDSN staff will be responsible for communicating the SDGs and inspiring excitement around a suggested action that can be done at home, at work, at school, or in their community. SDSN is currently looking into other forums where we can “table” about the SDGs and bring our SDG wheel to attract attention and teach the SDGs.