Even Italy smiles after the SDG Action Awards
There is also a touch of Italy among the winners of the 2023 edition of the SDG Action Awards which reward best practices on the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The recognition is part of the activities of the Un SDG Action Campaign, the UN Secretary General’s special initiative that gives voice to initiatives that mobilize, inspire and connect people to promote positive change towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
The 2023 “Sustainability Oscars” attracted over 5,000 nominations from 190 countries, and the award ceremony took place at the end of July in Rome after the United Nations summit on food systems. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the projects have been divided into four categories Mobilize, Inspire, Connect and Changemaker and a jury of experts from various fields named the relevant winners.
The division into categories allows the SDG Action Awards to be framed as an event that touches on ESG aspects in the round.
The winners of the 2023 SDG action awards were:
– Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri architects (Inspire category);
– World Cleanup Day of the Estonian NGO Let’s Do It! (Mobilize category);
– Voices of Venezuela by Nery Santaella (Changemaker category) e
– SignPost of the International Rescue Committee (Connect category)
Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba received honorable mention Goodwill Ambassadors for their work promoting the role of smallholder farmers in global agriculture.
Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri
The Green Obsession project, winner of the Inspire category, was born in Italy from the idea of starchitect Stefano Boeri, father of the famous vertical forest in Milan, who for years has been aiming to conceive and disseminate visionary solutions to make the centers of large cities greener. Green Obsession is the idea of a future where cities thrive with rooftop gardens, community gardens and urban agriculture. The basic idea is that by multiplying and enhancing the presence of urban forests within cities, it is possible to contain CO2, reduce air pollution, save energy, combat urban heat and conserve biodiversity, all central elements in the Agenda 2030, reference horizon in the evaluation of the projects presented.
Clearly, the symbol of this urban green revolution is the Vertical forest of Milanwhich with its 21,000 plants was chosen as the reference image of SDG 11, the eleventh goal of the United Nations Agenda 2030 which consists of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, long-lasting and sustainable.
In particular, SDG 11 aims to transform urban centers into sustainable cities through access of all populations to adequate, affordable and safe housing, basic services and means of transport, especially for the most vulnerable people, as well as of cultural and artistic heritage. SDG 11 meets Boeri’s Green Obsession where it foresees that the cities of the future are green and that the development of cities is not only architectural.
Today 54% percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, but the percentage is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. For this reason green must necessarily become an obsession in the architecture of the near future, as suggested by the very name of the project designed by Stefano Boeri.
According to the architect, it will be necessary to act on two fronts:
– intervene on the causes that generate emissions in cities, especially from buildings, and work so that each building, new or existing, not only reduces consumption but is transformed into a small clean energy production plant;
– prevent urban overheating by conceiving green areas as an integral part of the city to take care of.
World Cleanup Day, a global movement born in 2008
Winner of the Mobilize category, World cleanup day is one of the largest civic actions addressing the problem of waste, coordinating a day in which millions of people around the world are dedicated to cleaning up their environment. The project was born in 2008 in Estonia by the NGO Let’s Do It! and from the first 50,000 people gathered in 2008 it has grown and evolved into a global movement, reaching millions of people in 190 countries around the world.
Also driven by the greater global sensitivity towards sustainability issues, in the last five years World Cleanup Day has reached as many as 70 million people who have committed themselves to cleaning their surrounding environment. The last edition was held on September 17, 2022 and involved 15 million volunteers which generated a total of 30 million hours of work to remove about 60,000 tons of waste scattered in nature (on the street, on the beaches, in the woods and so on).
Voices of Venezuela, a project that gives hope
Voices of Venezuela is a non-profit organization founded by Nery Santaella to help people fleeing the South American country to build their self-sufficiency and integrate more easily into their new communities in Colombia. The organization educates refugees about their rights and fights xenophobia and fake news. The founder herself is a refugee: six years ago Nery fled the violence in Venezuela and her project was born right then.
In fact, during his trip, Santaella realized that there was a serious lack of credible information for refugees making their way from Venezuela to Colombia. So he founded the Voices of Venezuela project, whose site quickly became one of the most important and reliable sources of information for people fleeing Venezuela, reaching millions of people.
In addition to winning the Changemaker category of the SDG Action Awards 2023, last year Voices of Venezuela obtained the Gene Dewey Refugee Award, earning recognition from UNHCR, the United Nations agency for refugees.
In presenting the award named after him, Gene Dewey underlined Nery’s commitment to serving refugees and the importance of his example: “The best solutions to the challenges refugees face come from the refugees themselves, they come from basis,” notes Dewey. “Nery’s work underscores the character of refugees, they do not seek charity, but rather seek help to use their self-sufficiency, their abilities […] We all have heroes in our lives… you are truly a hero, Nery, and every refugee in the world can look to you as an example,” the former US Under Secretary of State for Population excitedly said at the awards ceremony. , Refugees and Migrations.
SignPost, how to reconcile sustainability and innovation
SignPost moves along the same lines as Voices of Venezuela, winning the award in the Connect category. The project was launched by the International Rescue Committee, the global humanitarian relief non-governmental organization, which provides aid and assistance to refugees and anyone fleeing war or natural disasters. The SignPost project was born from the often overlooked need to provide areliable and timely information to affected communities.
The most interesting feature of the project is the information branching, since the platform comes managed directly by the communities in the affected countries from conflict, violence or natural disasters. This mechanism makes SignPost a highly scalable digital information project and ensures in-depth knowledge of the context thanks to the work of people on site.
From trees on the terraces of the future, to authentic information to help those in difficulty, through the cleaning of the environment shared globally, the SDG Action Awards 2023 suggest that only a multi-channel approach to ESG issues can open the door to a truly sustainable future.