To celebrate United Nations Day, we decided to spotlight the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through the insights from our 2023 Diana Award recipients, this blog aims to inspire readers to engage and contribute to creating a more equitable and sustainable world.
Every year, on October 24th, we come together to celebrate United Nations Day; an annual celebration marking the official birth of the United Nations Day. So let’s wind the clocks back.
October 24th, 1945, 50 nations gather in San Francisco to discuss the future of the recently WW2 devastated world. Amongst the many things discussed in this landmark meeting was the safeguarding of future generations, pledging to uphold fundamental human rights and fast track the recovery from the scrouge of war. Over the decades, the commitment to upholding fundamental human rights established at the first meeting has grown, with 193 nations (at the time of writing) now signatories to the UN Charter, symbolising a beacon of hope for global unity.
Since its founding 78 years ago, the United Nations has played a pivotal role in fostering peace and protecting human rights. Recently, the institution’s focus has shifted towards the ambitious 2030 Agenda, striving to achieve the Sustainable Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals outline a transformative vision for our world, encompassing issues from eradicating poverty to promoting gender equality and combatting climate change.
One of the remarkable aspects of United Nations Day is how it celebrates the diversity of nations, all working harmoniously towards a common goal. This shared purpose is not only confined to world governments; it extends to individuals, businesses, and social activists worldwide. The recipients of the Diana Award, coming from every corner of the globe, exemplify this unity in diversity. Our Diana Award recipients have been through vastly different life experiences, however, they share a commonality in their relentless dedication and determination in improving the lives of others, to working towards the SDGs and achieving the United Nations goal of world peace, global unity, and human rights promotion.
For these extraordinary young leaders, the SDGs serve as a guiding framework providing direction for their humanitarian efforts. Swetha Kannan describes how:
“the SDGs offer a blueprint for a better world, a roadmap that unites individuals, businesses, and governments in a shared vision. For a social entrepreneur, this framework is invaluable. It transforms vague aspirations into concrete, aspirational goals, making it possible to channel my passion into purposeful projects. The SDGs provide a framework for building a lasting legacy of positive change.”
Sabrina Guo emphasizes that:
“the SDGs are a call to action – which is especially important for the youth, to recognise and follow on our collective goal to ensure our planet becomes a safer and more embracing home for all.”
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED_
United Nations Day is a day where we celebrate collaboration; it is a testament to the power of unified action and how diverse voices can come together to create a better world. And it cannot be denied that the beauty of the SDGs lies in their accessibility and universality. Every individual regardless of age, background, or location has the power to contribute to their achievement. So, here’s how you can get involved and make a difference, according to our 2023 Diana Award recipients:
2023 Diana Award recipient Max Han from Malaysia:
“Start somewhere by learning about the issues within your local community. Activism is not just protesting on the streets – it’s OK if you ‘re not ready, not every region offers the safety and luxury of that. You could write to politicians and media about underreported issues, you could design posters for grassroots groups. Ask yourself what you can offer and just start – the possibilities are endless! Find a community. Remember, you’re not alone. A friend once told me to think of advocacy like a choir – with so many people singing, the song will hold even when you stop for a breath. So, seek your local community, you will find solace and a deep solidarity that sustains you. Change comes with more people, and young people all over the world are stepping up alongside you.”
2023 Diana Award recipient Swetha Kannan from India:
“Remember, the journey towards achieving the SDGs is not a marathon. It requires sustained effort, commitment, and collaboration. Every individual action, no matter how small, contributes to the greater goal of a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous world. So, seize the opportunity today. Your actions, when combined with those of countless others, can change the trajectory of our planet, and create a future where everyone can thrive. Together, we can turn the SDGs from a vision into a reality.”
2023 Diana Award recipient Christelle Barakat from Lebanon:
“One of my favourite United Nations publications is The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World, which presents simple ways in which anyone can get involved in advancing the SDGs from the comfort of their own couch (level 1) or home (level 2), as well as outside of their house (level 3) and at work (level 4). From my perspective, the first step to becoming an SDG champion is getting informed and learning about the SDGs, our own communities’ needs, and how we can make SDGs part of the solution or response to these needs!”
2023 Diana Award recipient Inaya Danish from United Arab Emirates:
“It is crucial to remember that every single answer makes a difference. Every conscious decision to buy the reusing, recycled bag instead of a plastic one, to eat less meat, to donate a little more to the UN to help people all around the world – it all has an effect, no matter how small, because every seemingly insignificant action builds up to constant betterment for the planet. So do your part, no matter how small it seems – volunteer at beach cleanups, raise awareness about the goals, consume responsibly – no matter what it is, do it. Because it always helps. Because it’s worth everything for our home.”
2023 Diana Award recipient Oluwatomi Olunuga from Nigeria:
“Getting involved in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) starts with understanding them and finding alignment with your passions. Once you have identified your connection to specific goals, become an active observer in your community to pinpoint prevalent problems. Take the initiative to address these problems – there's no perfect time to start, so just begin. Remember, the journey towards sustainable development is ongoing. Embrace the learning curve, adapt along the way, and keep the momentum going. Your contribution, no matter how small, contributes to the collective effort towards a better world.”
2023 Diana Award recipient Ghalia Aamer from Canada:
“It is crucial for individuals to understand how their daily choices and actions can contribute positively to the SDGs. This self-awareness can lead to more responsible lifestyles, which collectively make a significant impact. The goals are ambitious and there is a lot to be done so it is important to foster a culture of open dialogue. Regular conversations within communities can help raise awareness and understanding of these global objectives. By discussing the goals, sharing information, and encouraging others to participate, individuals can inspire collective action. Collaboration is another fundamental aspect of advancing the SDGs. Individuals can seek out partnerships with organisations, community groups, or like-minded individuals who share their passion for specific goals.”
The reality is that achieving the SDGs will demand sustained effort, commitment and collaboration. However, every individual action contributes to the Empowered by the spirit of United Nations Day, let us work hand in hand to create a future where everyone can thrive.
Learn more about how our inspiring Diana Award recipients are working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals here