With this question and a strong line up of speakers we embarked on the 9th Sustainable Development Goals Network MeetUp, kindly hosted by Global Action Plan.
Approximately 25 change makers joined us for the evening to hear from and have the possibility to ask questions of Dan Raven-Ellison, guerrilla geographer, explorer and founder of London National Park City Campaign; Agamemnon Otero, founder of Energy Garden and CEO of Repowering; and Larissa Lockwood, Head of Air Quality at Global Action Plan, who led UK’s biggest air quality campaign, Clean Air Day, earlier this summer. The event was an opportunity to discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals can support and make grassroots projects and campaigns successful.
All the SDGs are interconnected and by engaging with one of them it is likely that you would also contribute to at least one other. For this particular MeetUp there was a focus on the goals for health and wellbeing (#3), clean energy (#7), sustainable cities and communities (#11), climate action (#13), life below water (#14), life on land (#15) – and partnerships for the goals (#17), because actions, projects, campaigns and initiatives require collaboration and partnership to be successful.
With the high interrelatedness of the goals though, there were several others which were also touched upon by our speakers for the evening. We enjoyed lots of new learnings, amazing facts, inspiring actions and creative discussions – just the way we like our MeetUps to be!
A theme running through this MeetUp event was how grassroots actions can add up and enable change in a community. There is often an enthusiast, or group of enthusiasts, driving an idea, passionate about seeing it or something like it happen. In the words of Agamemnon from Energy Gardens, there is always a Mama behind every initiative. Though it does not of course have to be a female voice! This notion is certainly echoed in Getting to Maybe: How the world is change (Westley, F., Zimmerman, B., Quinn Patton, M., 2009) a worthwhile book I would recommend reading for anyone interested in social change.
Following the interesting presentations on how London is coming to be a National Park City and what this mean for the capital (did you know that London is host to a staggering 15,000 species, not including homo sapiens?!), the creation of energy gardens across the overground network of train stations in an appealing combination of community energy projects and community gardens (they have even produced their own ale and honey!), and how Clean Air Day led to an amazing reach of 970 million (!!), we encouraged all participants and speakers to discuss with their neighbour; What would your personal commitment to a National park City, greener city or city with clearer air be?
The room was buzzing with discussion and it was almost a shame to have to break it all up, to round off with questions and allowing the participants to connect with each other further and perhaps find common areas of interest and opportunities collaborations.
As always at the end of a MeetUp we asked our speakers what the one action they would recommend to all participants to do the very next day to drive change towards a more sustainable future. This is what Larissa, Agamemnon and Dan said:
Talk to someone about air pollution! And here you can read what Clean Air Day 2018 achieved… Clean Air Day 2018 Report
Nominate your station to become an Energy garden! Green you station here
Sign up to the newsletter on the London National Park City website to learn more and what you can do to make London a greener, healthier and wilder place!
So, what about the personal commitments?
Well, I am pleased to be sharing some of the pledges made by our change makers. Why not get inspired and make your own pledge today!
- To have more conversations about how individual actions can impact London’s environment
- Continue to bug my council to do more on air pollution
- Talk to my son’s teacher & ask to do more outdoor learning
- London may have many green spaces, but all disconnected! How to connect them? >> Green routes linking parks
- Put plants on my balcony
- Open City Map
- Do more Recycling. Consume less. Volunteer with these amazing groups. Hold my employer to account. Know trees, recognise them.
- Walk + cycle more. Support local markets. Share park pictures. Occasionally help community gardens.
- Planting something. Using abandoned green space.
- Cycle more often. Increase outdoors time. Talk with friends and family to increase awareness.
- Personal behaviour. School engagement workshop. Sharing stats with others. Local council influence. Plant my garden with my kids!
- Walk + cycle more. Change cleaning products. A garden at the office roof. Investigate Energy Garden for office.
By Carolina Karlstrom, for SDG Network MeetUp
The aim of the Sustainable Development Goals Network MeetUp, or SDG Network for short, is to raise awareness of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (and the associated 169 targets), connect people who are interested in the Goals and inspire to action in your community. The SDG Network MeetUp is open for everyone interested in the Sustainable Development Goals in London and beyond. You can sign up via the website: www.meetup.com/SustainableDevelopmentCommunity/
We are currently seeking a sponsor for future MeetUps. Please get in touch with Carolina if you would like to learn more.