Get involved Vol 22, No. 01 - January 2018

Walking the talk on the global goals

“We want everyone to Be the Change!” says Ariel Alexovich, Associate Public Information Officer in the Sustainable Development Section in the UN Department of Public Information, as she describes a new UN initiative intended to make sure we all ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals. With UN DESA Voice, Ms. Alexovich shares how the initiative took off among UN staff members and what some of the next steps entail, as the initiative expands its reach with possible partners including schools, universities and businesses.

What is the “Be the Change” initiative all about?

“Be the Change started as a one-week challenge for New York-based UN staff members to live more sustainably at home and at work. As UN staff, we ask everyone to work together toward things like good health and responsible consumption, so we want to make sure we’re taking action ourselves. This programme helps colleagues better “walk the talk” on the Sustainable Development Goals and brings the goals we promote in our work lives into our daily lives.”

What has the response been like so far, and what’s next for the initiative?

“It’s been great! During the Be the Change pilot week in June, we had more than 400 staff members sign up for our daily emails, and dozens joined our events, which included a speaker panel about local transportation, a tour of the UN Food Garden and an East River shoreline clean-up. We brought back the Be the Change initiative in November for a winter coat drive on Giving Tuesday. We’re proud to say we filled five giant hampers with donations for less-fortunate New Yorkers.

And this is just the beginning of what the Be the Change initiative can achieve. Based on our 2017 successes and lessons learned, we’ve created a Be the Change toolkit so UN duty stations around the world can host their own one-day or weeklong challenges.”

Why should people take this challenge?

“Whether or not you’re a UN staff member, we’re all responsible for building happy and healthy communities. Living sustainably leads to better personal health, greater prosperity in our neighborhoods and a healthier environment. And small things DO add up. Many things can be done around the home and office that don’t take much effort but make a positive impact.”

What is your hope for the initiative going forward?

“We want everyone to Be the Change! Now that we have a toolkit ready, we hope to see the programme replicated at other duty stations around the world. Beyond that, we want to work with partners outside the UN to hold their own Be the Change challenges. We think there’s a great opportunity to get schools, universities and businesses involved. And, of course, we’ll hold the second Be the Change Week here at UN Headquarters next June, plus offer more one-day events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year.”

For more information:

Be the Change website  

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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