Earlier in May, NOW’s Mirella Ferraz joined 1,700+ people at the United Nations’ Global Festival of Action in Bonn, Germany. The Festival builds awareness and understanding of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Have you been to an event that makes you feel part of a bigger story? Do you wonder how it feels to connect with a global community? These were feelings I experienced at the UN’s 2019 Global Festival of Action.

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are varied aims that achieved together, will improve wellbeing worldwide. Governments across the world adopted them in 2015 with the aspiration that they would be achieved by 2030.

To inspire more effective action, the UN’s annual Global Festival of Action convenes a diverse gathering of people from over 150 countries, working towards the SDGs. This includes artists, activists, senior civil servants, business people and researchers. Mixing together, they review what they’ve accomplished and what still needs to happen over the next 10 years to achieve the SDGs.

It was particularly inspiring to hear from High Commissioner for Agenda 2030, Cristina Gallach, because she shared the pioneering approach the Spanish government has adopted. Spain is now considering the SDGs in every piece of legislation it approves.

Edward Ndopu – special adviser for impact and corporate sustainability at RTW Investments – gave a moving speech on how each individual has the power to make change. For him, this includes becoming the first physically-disabled person to travel into space!

Yusuf Omar of Hashtag Our Stories was another of the many speakers who made a lasting impression. Throughout the event, he gave a captivating narration of what was being discussed, using poetry and storytelling.

The programme was as diverse as the participants. As well as the usual plenaries and workshops, it featured creative spaces, a film festival, and in-depth discussions and exhibitions. These were interspersed with music and storytelling performances.

Conference room at the World Conference Centre, in Bonn, Germany

Voices from many countries and sectors were present, bringing to bear the full spectrum of human creativity to the global crises we face.

My personal highlights included:

  • A session by The Food Forever Initiative on how we can be more resilient through agricultural biodiversity. This also mentioned a North Pole seed bank storing almost one million varieties of seeds to preserve farming diversity
  • The Power To The Children documentary about child parliaments in India, where children are taking their lives in their own hands in a powerful and transformative way
  • A global collective of musicians called Nyado, which uses music to connect change-makers and lead the delivery of SDGs
  • A discussion on how social enterprises worldwide can create innovative solutions to achieve the SDGs
  • A talk by Brazilian film director Estevão Ciavatta about his work to preserve the Amazon Rainforest.

I was also proud to share the work we’re doing at the Share Shed – A Library of Things, our own contribution to the SDGs. This project helps people in Totnes (Devon, UK) to live better lives while consuming less of the world’s resources.

In the final plenary, Estevão Ciavatta remarked “People are like rivers. They’re stronger when they flow together”. This sentiment captured the essence of this empowering event.

For more information, visit https://globalfestivalofaction.org.