State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Help Accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals: Vote for Your Favorite Project

project listings and photos
A small selection of projects you can vote for on the Local Project Challenge website.

The most important thing that occurred at the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos meetup was the widely shared expressions of urgency among participants about the need to quickly make a significant dent in the upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions. While newly awakened awareness about the urgency of the problem among the world’s economic elite is gratifying, by itself, it changes little. Unless the sustainability commitment is deep-rooted and efforts are broad-based we will scarcely move the needle even as time runs out on us. We have only 10 years left to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which outline economic, social, and environmental targets for 2030.

But we have some good news with regard to deep-rooted efforts; there are many and they are alive and well. What they need is a stronger network to tie them together. Over the last two years, the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) has been leading an action research project to increase awareness of the SDGs. The responses to this have been overwhelming. We need your help as we move into the next stage of our work.

The Accelerating the SDGs project, as we call it, seeks to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2018, CSUD mapped out a series of global and local initiatives to engage people in education, the professions and civil society in addressing the SDGs. During Stage 1, our City Maker Survey asked participants “How are the SDGs traveling in your world?” We received responses from over 1,000 people worldwide. Results are available in a working paper.

For Stage 2 of the project, moving from research to action, we initiated a call for local projects that engage with the SDGs. The Local Project Challenge website showcases the 110 projects that were submitted from 39 countries and that engage with the SDGs. Located in urban, semi-urban and rural settings, these very diverse projects can be sorted by category, country and location.

On the Local Project Challenge website, you can vote for a project that you think contributes to a more sustainable planet. By exploring these projects, you will gain an insight into some amazing and innovative work. Some projects have been completed, and many are on-going.

Please vote for your favorite project by February 11, and share the site with your networks.

The Local Project Challenge online gallery will be showcased at the World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi from February 8-13, 2020. On February 12th, the team will announce the People’s Choice Award and International Expert Panel awards during the two-hour networking event, “Accelerating the SDGs through the Local Project Challenge.”

Awarded projects will be featured on the project website. The online gallery aims to build knowledge sharing networks around the world, stimulate new opportunities for local projects, and inspire others to work with the SDGs. Future plans include a book of exemplary projects.

Click here to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Anna Rubbo leads the Accelerating the SDGs project at Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development. She has been assisted by Earth Institute student interns Amanda Abrom, Jade Watkins and Elaine Angeles, and Bruno Mendonca. The Federal University Rio de Janeiro, Asia Initiatives, Perkins Eastman and the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization have collaborated in various stages of the project.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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