Two Indians made it to the final list of 21 finalists at the Global Festival of Sustainability- woohoo! Hopefully this will inspire more participants and winners in the future! Given the size of our country and the critical role we play in the overall fulfilment of the UN’s goals, I did think we were quite under-represented at the festival.

What are the SDG Action awards for? These are awards that are given to individuals, civil society organisations as well as to teams from the private sector to recognise the most impactful and innovative movements. You can get more info on the 7 different categories here.

The SDG Action Awards cover these 7 categories

Indian finalists & winners- The Red Dot Foundation won the award for Best Visualiser for bringing data to life in a visual and innovative manner. The team has created an app called “Safecity” that maps locations with high incidence of harassment & violation of women in public spaces. Here’s a quick video on what they do. I personally think a country like India will need extremely grass-root level and less technological intervention to make a real difference in gender inequality. Nevertheless, a worthy effort.

Elsa Marie D’Silva, CEO Red Dot Foundation India, receives the winner award in the Visualiser category

Ricky Kej was the second Indian to make it to the final round of 21 finalists. His “My Earth Songs” initiatives takes each of the 17 SDG goals and sets them to music with lyrics to help young children imbibe some of the principles of sustainability. I thought this was a very interesting project and it has a lot of possibilities- especially when the songs are translated to languages that the children speak at home. I understand he’s already doing this in the Kannada language. I’ll be trying to catch Ricky one of these days so stay tuned for that 🙂

Listen to little children sing one of Kej’s songs. You can immediately see how accessible the message of sustainability becomes for young children.

Other notable award winners. One of the festival favourites (and mine) was the Connected Development team from Nigeria, for their Follow The Money movement. They won the Mobiliser award for getting individual organisations to build collective action.

Hamzat Lawal, CEO Connected Development receiving the award as winner in the Mobiliser category

Using Nigeria’s Freedom of Information (similar to the Indian Right To Information) the team at Connected Development mines information on the government’s developmental projects and foreign aid.

They then empower affected communities to ask important questions on the cost, timelines & impact of these projects. Most importantly, they track these projects using simple as well as block-chain technology. Over the years they have tracked approx 10 mn USD that was meant for social development.

Given our own country’s tendency to misappropriate funds for social development & at the same time have so much talent in IT…I’d love to see similar ideas like Follow The Money from India! Ping me if you know of any?!

Posted by:Dechen

Hi! I write on sustainability, books and simply lying fallow. I've worked for 14 years in various industries, but nothing will mean as much as making a real difference through the advocacy of Sustainability. This is a topic that I think is critical in developing economies like India/South Asia.