By Britta Schmitz
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 13 2016 – UNICEF is constantly working on raising awareness
around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On 7 November, UNICEF hosted an
event aimed at students of the New York City area to show them how they can contribute to
achieving the SDGs and especially tackle global warming.
“We want to provide a space for all of you to get inspired, to discuss challenges and solutions,
to network and basically to get active on becoming more sustainable, because this is an
existential issue for all of us, but especially for young people,” said Shannon O’Shea, Agenda
2030 Partnerships Manager at UNICEF.
The event was a huge success. All available tickets were booked in less than 24 hours. Five
panelists were invited to an action talk to discuss their ideas on how to get the public involved
in achieving the seventeen Global Goals.
“I decided to stop making garbage, it’s been four years and from there I started my company
to make it easier for people to make choices to lower their environmental impact,” said
Lauren Singer, founder of the popular blog Trash is for Tossers.
Singer talked about her experiences of living a zero waste lifestyle and how easy it is to make
a difference by deciding consciously every day.
“Besides caring about the environment, I’ve saved so much money through living this
lifestyle, so doing things that are better for the environment also impact the bottom line. And
for me, I’ve saved on food alone 20,000 dollars over the past four years,” said Singer.
“I’m helping them see that the world that we live in and the world that they know as being
normal isn’t the only world that we have to live in and that we have a choice,” Singer said
about her work.
“If you need to buy something that you don’t need to use very often, think about renting it,”
suggested Melissa O’Young, Community Engagement Lead at Airbnb.
Ovie Mughelli, former NFL Pro Bowl Fullback and founder of the Ovie Mughelli
Foundation, talked about what inspired him to get involved with achieving the SDGs. He
explained that a lot of people want to help, but they don’t know about environmental issues
that are affecting them or how to contribute to a more sustainable world.
“Both my parents are Nigerian … and I knew things were bad in Nigeria, but Nigeria has
some of the worst air qualities in the world and they don’t know it,” said Mughelli on the
panel. “A lot of them are unaware of what’s going on.”
“The same way that kids in America, kids in New York, kids in Atlanta, who just don’t know
why they should care. But everyone wants to care, these parents want to care, these kids want
a better life for themselves, but they don’t know why they should want to.”
“So we make it fun, we make it easy,” said Mughelli. One of his projects is an environmental
football camp for young people in America. “It’s something where they learn without
knowing they’re learning.”
“It has to be everyone’s issue, everyone has to be a part of it, everyone has to be on board.
Everyone has to have that culture, that mind-set change. And the way we do it is that we just
“I do believe that sometimes people that live in cities believe that we know more, but we also
have to learn from people in rural areas, there is a lot of knowledge,” said Andrea Burgueño
Castro, Parsons Graduate and Design Strategist of Goodfill.
UNICEF used the occasion to present the newest Comics Uniting Nations release “Simon
Says… Save the Climate!” Simon is a red hippo that advices its readers on making sustainable
choices in their everyday life. The climate action comic is aimed at younger children than the
initiative’s previous Chakra comic on climate change.
“Simon Says” is going to be officially presented at the climate summit COP22 in Marrakesh,
along with another climate action comic featuring Santa Clause. Comics Uniting Nations has
so far created six different comic books on the SDGs.
“Our job as a community of purpose is to keep being role models,” said Sean Southey,
CEO of the NGO PCI Media Impact and co-founder of Comics Uniting Nations.
Information booths provided the attendees with issues of the latest comic release, as well as
tips on how to live a sustainable life in one’s own community.
“You have to figure out how you can make the biggest difference,” said Mughelli.