We are never going to make progress unless everyone knows the facts, thats why Wiki Loves SDGs and other acts of factivism are so important, say Bruna Ellias and Abideen Olasupo
September is a crucial month for the world and all its inhabitants, whether they know it or not. Unfortunately too many people do not, we want to change that.
In September, world leaders convene to discuss the latest developments related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were the result of a three year process involving 83 national surveys engaging over 7 million people, making it the biggest consultation in UN history. They lay out a road map for a better world, from ending poverty, to achieving gender equality, from protecting our oceans to achieving world peace, by 2030.
The more people know about these goals, and their current progress, the better chance we have to achieve them. We cannot afford to be blind to the scope and scale of the challenge, and the reality that we are not on track to deliver on the Global Goals.
Data allows us to not only monitor and evaluate the implementation of these goals but to catalyse action. As factivists, our mission is to democratise knowledge and make it accessible to everyone, anywhere. By spreading this information we open up the possibility for people to provide alternative measures and innovative solutions to tackle societal problems. It is very important that young people be provided with every opportunity to access data and have a say in shaping the lives of their societies.
This September with the current pandemic, talks were taken online and youth found new ways to spread this crucial information beyond the carpeted halls of the United Nations. One of these initiatives was “Wiki loves SDGs” (a Project Everyone initiative). It aimed to raise awareness of the Global Goals using the 5th most visited website on the internet: Wikipedia. By mobilising a committee of hundreds of volunteers, activists and citizens across the world, SDG experts managed to hold a virtual weeklong edit-a-thon to create and edit Wikipedia articles on the Global Goals. Two of these experts, members of the Youth Power Panel, share their experience.
“Last September I had the chance to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), at the UN in New York. It was amazing to share halls with world leaders and listen to inspiring talks about the progress that has been made and what’s left to do before 2030.
But one thing was missing. One thought was haunting my mind the entire time. How can we, as young people, actually be part of the conversation? How can we create a meaningful experience during the Global Goals week that can benefit people around the world. Little did I know that one year later, I was going to be addressing this problem directly.
It was very surprising to know that there are currently massive gaps in content about the Global Goals on Wikipedia and that few goals have their own articles. During the edit-a-thon we put that right, developing new articles, improving existing articles, inserting relevant links and adding images.”
More than 300 people took part in an intense week of editing, writing and bettering the information on Wikipedia. This experience exposed young people to hundreds of reports encapsulating a sense that the work on the SDGs needs an overhaul and trained a new cohort of factivists. Abideen, a member of the Youth Power Panel from Nigeria was proud to see his country have the most number of volunteers signing up and reflected on the impact it had on his personal skills as an organiser on the project.
“I have learnt a lot from Wiki loves SDGs. My research skills and my emotional intelligence have improved as I edited pages and handled volunteers from across the world working on different platforms in different countries. I have also learned about working under pressure and it has been really an exciting journey for me.
We are in the year of the decade of action and COVID-19 has remade a new normal. This new normal has had at least one positive impact. I have always wanted to see the #LeaveNoOneBehind mantra of the SDGs realised. Youth who would normally not be able to attend UNGA in New York were able to lend their voices and joined different conversations during the week. I am super excited to have leveraged my grassroot community mobilisation and campaigning skills to get one-third of the registrant for the Wiki Love SDGs project and to see 5 of my fellow Nigerians receive €100 stipends.”
Staying informed, and informing others (through verified data) is the first step to identifying the problems in our own communities, and holding leaders accountable in terms of their 2015 promises. But the work does not stop there. There are still many opportunities for young people to engage and be involved.