20 million grassroots projects to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

This weekend, we had the honour of welcoming the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammad, to our office to discuss how each of us can play a role in driving progress towards the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (“the Global Goals”).

Here at ChangeX, we’ve been working with local communities and social innovators across Ireland and the US for the last four years to help spread ideas that improve health, sustainability, education and inclusion at a local grassroots level. More than 7,300 community projects have been started through the platform, impacting almost 250,000 people.

We have partnered with more than 60 social innovators to build thriving communities everywhere by giving everyone access to the tools they need to be a changemaker for the people around them: Ideas, knowledge, money and that little bit of encouragement and support that’s needed along the way.

We believe that citizens in our local communities can achieve great things and we’ve seen the evidence of this impact again and again. That’s why today we’re committing to an ambitious goal that will guide all that we do here at ChangeX over the coming years and we believe will provide a meaningful contribution towards the Global Goals.

Our goal is to bring 20 million projects to life through ChangeX to benefit more than one billion people, by 2030.

What does that mean?

People taking action in the places they live and work is, in our eyes, central to achieving the Global Goals, but can be easy to overlook. I often use the example of Westport, County Mayo, the county in Ireland where I grew up.  Westport was voted Ireland’s best place to live and it’s widely acknowledged that one of the primary reasons for this, is its thriving community groups, groups like Men’s Sheds and Tidy Towns.

In our meeting with Amina Mohammed she spoke of how local communities, whether in Rwanda or in Ireland, are the bedrock for changes like empowering women and girls, tackling climate change and reducing inequalities – she said these goals can’t be achieved without the action and advocacy of citizens.

A major challenge in many communities across Europe and the US in recent years has been the integration of migrants and refugees.  Some of the bright spots emerging from the crisis have involved locally led action – communities creating opportunities, often in their free time, to work together, cook together, learn together or do sport together, one great example of that in Ireland is in Ballyhaunis.  

Achieving the ambitious goal will not be easy and we’ll have a lot of work to do over the next 10 years. We need to:

  • Curate 1,000 ideas addressing the 17 Goals
  • Channel 5 billion euro of investment towards local community projects
  • Activate and support 20 million local projects

Thankfully, technology creates unprecedented opportunity to enable the spread of ideas at this scale and to mobilise a global movement of citizen action towards the Global Goals. While citizens are already taking many problems into their own hands, there remains a lot of untapped potential and one way to unleash this could be to create a better business case for investing in communities.

As the expectations of consumers and employees shift, businesses are looking hard at how they maximise their social impact while minimising their environmental footprint. Smart corporate leaders such as Unilever are aligning their ambitious CSR and sustainability efforts with the UN Goals.

But these companies also want to make their investments in more innovative ways. They want to have real connections with the people and projects they invest in, they want their employees to get involved in meaningful ways and they want to be able to track their impact in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

By offering a solution to the companies who believe in the power of local community leaders, and really focusing on impact, we hope we can mobilise the funds needed to unleash more energy in local communities.

Ireland co-authored these historic goals, lead by our advisor David Donoghue.  Now we have an opportunity to lead the world in implementing them. From governments to businesses and communities – we have no time to waste.

How can you join this goal?

Invest in communities – As a business or foundation let’s discuss how you can invest in communities in more meaningful and impactful ways.

Check out our Impact as a Service model or email me directly at [email protected]

Start ideas – Apply to bring ChangeX ideas to your own community

Explore ideas here

Submit an idea – As a social enterprise or someone who has successfully implemented an idea that is scalable across a few locations, you can become an idea partner on ChangeX.

Send an email to Niamh McKenna, Head of Impact at ChangeX at niamh@changex.org 


Header photo (L-R) Amina Mohammad, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Niamh McKenna, ChangeX, Geraldine Byrne Nason, Irish Amabassador to the UN and ChangeX founder Paul O’Hara. Photo: Allen Kiely

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