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Activists encouraged to apply for UN SDG Action Awards

BySandeep Patel

Apr 27, 2023
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The 2023 UN SDG Action Awards will be presented in Rome, Italy, in July, and the deadline for applications and nominations has been extended to 7 May. 

“We are calling on all activists, mobilizers, and changemakers to submit their application today for a chance to become an awards finalist and to join us in Rome for a celebration of their global sustainability actions and ongoing efforts in confronting global challenges and holding decision-makers to account,” said Marina Ponti, Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign

Flipping the script 

Ms. Ponti noted that 2022 was a seminal year for the Campaign, an initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General to galvanize people everywhere around the 17 SDGs, which include ending extreme poverty, reducing inequalities, and combatting climate change by 2030. 

“We defied all expectations and mobilized nearly 150 million people around the world to take action for the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said. 

“Now, we want to acknowledge and celebrate those very same people who made a difference on the ground flipping the script on the climate crisis, gender inequality, and food insecurity and laying the foundations for a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”  

Making a mark 

Last year’s awards ceremony was held in Bonn, Germany, receiving over 3,000 applications from 150 countries. 

This year’s event will be held on 24 July in Rome on the margins of the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment

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, where countries will review progress towards transforming food systems worldwide. 

Past winners include Hamzat B. Lawal, Founder of the Nigeria-based anti-corruption organisation Follow the Money, which works to influence social change and disrupt the status quo by setting up social accountability models tracking government spending and international aid, exposing corruption, and revealing to the public how effective local social development projects are. 

Hamzat B. Lawal, Founder of the Nigeria-based anti-corruption organisation Follow the Money, addresses the 2022 UN SDG Action Awards.

© UN SDG Action Campaign/Benjamin Westhoff

Hamzat B. Lawal, Founder of the Nigeria-based anti-corruption organisation Follow the Money, addresses the 2022 UN SDG Action Awards.

“Winning a UN SDG Action Award has been a life changing moment for the initiative and team,” Mr. Lawal said. “Not only has it empowered us to strengthen our internal governance structure, but most importantly the Award has enhanced our credibility in holding governments to account and fostering transparency.” 

Since winning in 2019, Follow the Money has grown its presence across Africa, expanding from four countries to a total of nine while also attracting interest from the Americas and Asia.  

Other finalists have also continued to leave their mark on local and global communities, including Srishti Bakshi, a marketer-turned-women’s-rights-activist, who embarked on a pilgrimage of 3,800 kilometres through 12 Indian states to put a spotlight on the root causes of violence against women. 



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