The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is a ground-breaking event powered by the UN SDG Action Campaign with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Foreign Office and partners.

The Festival’s overall aim is to gather and inspire SDGs campaigners and multi-stakeholder partners to scale up and broaden the global movement to take action for the SDGs.

Taking place in Bonn every year, the Festival provides a dynamic and interactive space to showcase the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG advocacy and SDG action. It brings together leaders from governments, local authorities, international organizations, civil society, activists, young advocates, the creative industry and the private sector– to scale up the impact of their work and strategize joint actions, whilst motivating new organizations and individuals to join the movement and take action for the SDGs.

The Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if everyone takes action

The 2019 edition of the Festival comes at a time where critical SDG milestones are on the horizon at the international level. In September 2019, world leaders will be reviewing progress on the goals at the High Level Political Forum and a number of key indicators will need to be met by 2020. As the global community approaches the ’10 years to go milestone’, now is the time for actors at every level to renew their commitment towards achieving the goals together.

The overall aim of the Global Festival of Action is to mobilize, inspire and connect stakeholders to further SDG action.

Throughout the next two years campaigning, evidence-based advocacy, and coalition building will be critical to keep the momentum on world leaders’ commitment to the SDGs and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Therefore, the Festival aims to:

  • Recognize, celebrate and raise the visibility of the most effective SDG change-makers
  • Inspire new partners from new sectors to join the global movement to take action for the SDGs
  • Leverage the arts, music and creativity to generate lasting advocacy and communication synergies aimed at reaching large audiences – particularly of youth
  • Strengthen current SDG partnerships, explore new alliances and leverage the presence of SDG actors to discuss strategies and joined initiatives around key milestones events in 2019 and 2020.

Within the overall aim to mobilize, inspire and connect key stakeholders to further SDG action, the 2019 Festival will be curated around 7 interconnected themes:

  1. Mobilization: Approaches, tools and effective models employed to mobilize individuals, organizations or networks to act for the SDGs
  2. Storytelling: Capturing and communicating powerful human stories to demonstrate and share the importance, impact and interconnectedness of the SDGs to people’s lives through different mediums
  3. Campaigning: Creating, developing or leading impactful communications campaigns (local/national/international) to raise awareness about the SDGs and/or people’s voices and role in SDG action
  4. Visualization: Harnessing data and applying visual approaches to transform complex concepts into digestible messages in order to tell powerful stories to convince decision-makers and the public of the importance of the SDGs
  5. Connections: Innovative or impactful ways to engage multiple stakeholders or building networks to generate the transformational change needed to make the SDGs a reality
  6. Inclusion: Leave No One Behind – Tangible and effective approaches to ensure that excluded groups become part of the SDG dialogue and decision making in their community or at international levels
  7. Creativity: Harnessing artistic expression to spur SDG action and awareness through creativity, empowering and connecting people

These themes which will underpin the substantive content throughout the event, align with the categories of the UN SDG Action Awards. The Awards will run in tandem with the Festival and aim to celebrate and recognize change-makers from across the globe. Award winners will be announced at the SDG Action Awards Ceremony on the first evening of the Festival, and will have the opportunity to lead sessions as part of the Festival program.

The 2019 Festival will feature a range of formats, each positioned to further understanding and awareness, build practical skills and networks and become inspired by SDG Leaders.


Each day of the Festival will be opened with a high-level plenary session in the Plenary Hall. These opening sessions will bring all 1,500 participants together and will be positioned to contextualize the discussions at the Festival and in turn, inspire each and every Festival-goer to take action during the Festival and beyond.


The Festival will feature approximately 30 thematic crowdsourced sessions, each co-curated and designed by SDG partners across the world, offering a rich tapestry of interactive workshops, world cafes, hackathons, data dives, case study snapshots, policy simulations and ‘how to’ sessions, all designed to increase awareness, understanding and build capacity around SDG Action. Each session is designed for targeted groups, with tangible outcomes aligned with the Festival themes. These sessions take place in different rooms with capacity ranging from 50 – 120 participants and each will be 45-90 minutes in length.

SDG Action hubs

To compliment the substantive sessions at the Festival, and also in line with the core themes of the event, SDG “action hubs” will be positioned throughout the venue to provide participants with interactive and immersive spaces to learn from some of the latest SDG advocacy technologies and approaches, to foster new connections and partnerships and to experience some of the most creative and inspiring SDG initiatives. The 2019 SDG Action hubs include:

  • The SDG Studio: A dynamic live stage positioned in the lobby area where ted-style talks, cross-generational dialogues, pitches and bar camps are featured. The live stage is broadcast on UN Web TV and will provide the platform for participants, inspiring speakers and key stakeholders to record and disseminate their SDG actions, commitment and stories.
  • Meet-up spaces: Meeting places positioned throughout the venue for SDG stakeholders from across the globe to connect, network, share ideas, plans and build partnerships. These designated spaces provide participants with the opportunity to schedule meetings new and existing partners to connect and share ad hoc presentations.
  • SDG Action Zone: Positioned in front of the plenary hall, this area is the SDG Action Campaign space where participants can learn and test the various SDG tools and initiatives that are led by the Campaign. From sharing participants’ own perceptions through the MYWorld survey, experiencing virtual reality stories through MYWorld 360, to pledging commitment to particular goals with the augmented reality butterfly effect SDG wings, the Campaign team will be at hand to meet and explore further engagement ideas and opportunities while sharing the latest toolkits and initiatives that can be adopted to further SDG action.
  • Film screenings: A dedicated space where participants can enjoy SDG Films featured in different media formats such as 2D, 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality. These films will allow participants to travel to distant corners of the world and find out how the SDGs are making a difference in people’s lives.
  • Innovation zone: This space will offer an interactive and immersive experience for Festival goers keen to learn more about the latest trends and pioneering approaches to SDG communications, visualizations and transformative technologies.

Global Festival of Action Signature Events

With the aim of rewarding creativity and inspiring a generation of SDG advocates these signature events bring the spotlight to the change makers whilst motivating others to join the global movement. The 2019 signature events are:

  • UN SDG Action Awards Ceremony: The UN SDG Action Awards celebrate individuals, civil society organizations, local governments and others who are taking action to advance the 2030 Agenda across a range of categories. The awards celebrate the mobilizers, connectors, campaigners, visualizers, includers, creatives and storytellers, each of whom will be announced at The UN SDG Action Awards Ceremony, being held on the first evening of the event – Thursday 2 May. Taking place at the Festival venue, this exciting evening of recognition and achievement will not only serve to showcase the incredible initiatives being led by  awards finalists and winners but will also serve as a closed-door social event for the Global Festival community to connect, share stories and further those critical connections, while being on the front row for some incredible performances and musical acts.
  • SDG Concert: This inaugural event will take place on the second evening of the Festival, Friday 3 May and will offer a fusion of world music and local performances with Festival participants and local constituents alike, taking the stage to share their talents, hopes and ambitions for Agenda 2030 at an open-air venue where food and drink will be served. The evening will begin with a colourful procession from the World Conference Centre to Munsterplatz in the heart of the city, providing the perfect opportunity for Festival-goers to connect with new faces and learn more about the local community, while raising awareness and further understanding around the goals to residents of the Festival’s host City, Bonn. By harnessing the creative industries, the City of Bonn, NRW state government and UN SDG Action Campaign will deliver a multi-media programme of film clips and performances, integrated with high-level international and local speakers to truly bridge the international and local communities and inspire further engagement and action around the goals.

See highlights from 2018 & 2017

Get involved – participate, partner, collaborate!

In order to create a diverse, dynamic and inclusive event for the international SDG community, the UN SDG Action Campaign are calling for sessions, innovations, films, artist contributions and will strive to recognize and celebrate some of the greatest SDG achievements through the UN SDG Action Awards!

The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is co-designed, co-curated and co-owned be each and every Action Partner, whether hosting a session, running a workshop, showcasing a new project, sharing the latest creative endeavours, each active stakeholder in the event will become a much needed and much appreciated Action Partner of the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development.

The open call for submissions will run from 27 November 2018 – 15 January 2019