2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone. But despite the circumstances we’re in and the issues we face, campaigners and activists have continued to show their determination to create a better world for people and planet and to advance progress to the Goals. In this blog, we’re putting a spotlight on some of the changemakers and the issues they have worked on and how they’ve continued to be Global Goals champions even during this pandemic.
COVID-19 has not only put the health of people around the world at risk, but has placed a strain on health systems and health workers everywhere. Dexter – who is a member of the Youth Power Panel– is amongst millions of frontline workers who are tackling the pandemic. As a healthcare professional from the Philippines, he worked hard to save lives. Outside of his profession, he was involved in solidarity calls which took place regularly with youth activists from around the world to discuss the Goals. In 2020, Dexter also moderated a UN High-Level Political Forum side event where he discussed ways we can Build Back Better after the pandemic for a healthy and sustainable recovery.
In addition to the health of people, another key issue that was at the forefront of people’s minds in 2020 was the health of the planet. A particularly memorable moment of 2020 were the imageswe saw of cities and the drastic visual improvement of air quality during the lockdown. Images like this were one of the many ways we saw the impact of climate change and what can be done to address it.
An activist who has been campaigning on this issue since she was 12 years old is Melati Wijsen, co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags(BBPB) which is a movement powered by youth around the world to say no to plastic bags. With teams in over 25 locations, BBPB has become a national and international movement, inspiring the masses to act now. As well as this, in the middle of 2020, Melati founded Youthopiawhich has a mission to provide space for young people to come together, ignite their passions and grow their skills to become active changemakers.
Another vital element to achieving the Global Goals is having peace and security. One of the biggest movements that emerged and developed in 2020 was the #EndSARSmovement which sparked discussions on social media and beyond. Youth Power Panel member from Nigeria, Abideen Olasupo was part of the protests and has shared his thoughts with us stating:
“Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals. A Goal every single country – including Nigeria signed up to in 2015 but what we have seen recently in our country shows that we are far from achieving this.”
He also adds:
“Notably, #EndSARS is a response to chronic poverty, food inflation, economic instability, and weak institutions, and Nigeria must start taking active steps today if we truly intend to achieve success.”
Not only does this highlight the importance of peace and security, it also shows that the Goals and all of the issues it emcompasses are interconnected. Not only has Abideen been fighting for the Goals at the frontlines of the #EndSARS movement, he also led volunteers of the Wiki Loves SDGs edit-a-thon in creating Wikipedia pages on the Goals whilst also leading solidarity callswith the Youth Power Panel.
A changemaker that has also been active in 2020 regardless of the challenges faced is Amika George. Amika is the founder of #FreePeriods and the Goalkeepers Campaign Award winner in 2018. This year, Amika advocated for the Global Goals by working to change policy with the Red Box Challenge, which aims to help students in schools and colleges in the UK access free period products.
In addition to this, Amika has also written a book called Make it Happen: How to be an Activist which is a guide to being an effective activist.
Although 2020 has been a difficult and uncertain year for many around the world, we can find hope in the people that are working to change the world regardless of the challenges faced.
As we look ahead to 2021, we are encouraged by the young activists dedicated to making it a year of action. The dedication and passion of young activists like the ones mentioned here are key in making these Goals a reality for everyone, everywhere.