At the age of two Edward (Eddie) Ndopu’s life seemed over before it had even begun. That year, he had been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that affects the nerve cells that help us walk, eat or breathe. According to doctors, Eddie would not live beyond his fifth birthday. Driven by a relentless pursuit of a full life, Eddie not only survived, he was able to get an education and go on to become the first African with a disability to graduate from Oxford University and become the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate. Today, he is making plans to become the first wheelchair user to go into space.
As countries ramp up their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN DESA highlights the central role of public institutions in delivering the promise of the 2030 Agenda. The annual United Nations Public Service Forum and Awards, held on the UN Public Service Day, 23 June, celebrate the men and women who act as the backbone of institutions and the brainpower that enables the day-to-day delivery of public services.