Solution Talks - New Event Series by Social City Vienna and imfino Seeks to Raise Awareness of SDGs
Vienna, July 6, 2018 - Solution Talks – a new event series by Social City Vienna and its impact finance spin-off imfino, will set out to explore in depth the current state of SDG implementation in Vienna and, through a process of dialogue and networking, pave the way for joint action to raise awareness for the SDGs and the Agenda 2030 among Viennese citizens by making the Goals more visible and transparent. This Solution Talks series is scheduled to begin in September, presenting, on a monthly basis, activities and projects currently under way in Vienna on individual SDGs. The aim of the series is both to assess what is already being done and illustrate this with best-practice examples as well as initiate a discussion on the question of how these initiatives could be carried further. The next step would then be to identify new potential projects and for future engagement.
The event series will focus on the central question of how the Sustainability Goals are already being implemented in different Viennese companies, organizations and institutions and what could still be done to enhance their visibility. At present, Vienna is not just host city to the international organizations that created the SDGs, but is also seen as a role model for their implementation. Nevertheless, there is still unused potential and room for improvement.
Off to a Good Start
Some of these SDG-aligned activities were identified and highlighted during a kick-off event to the Solution Talks series, which took place at the Vienna Education Academy (Wiener Bildungsakademie) on June 29. The event was moderated by Social City Managing Director Emil Diaconu and Cappar Hajo from the Vienna Education Academy. Stakeholders from industry, politics, education, social and cultural organizations and institutions, as well as civil society participated in an animated discussion about the current state of the SDGs in Vienna. The UNIDO Communications Department also made a strong showing with its Media Relations Officer Sayaphol Sackda (“Coco”) and two of his team members in attendance.
Low Level of Awareness and Identification
Emil Diaconu from Social City started off the discussion by highlighting the central dilemma of the SDGs – the lack of public awareness about their existence and content. Despite the fact that Vienna already has many SDG-related projects on track, there is as yet little concerted action regarding ways to connect these activities formally with the Agenda 2030 and enhance their visibility. This lack of public presence is chiefly responsible for the fact that the Viennese population is largely unaware of the existence of the Goals. Here, the media play a key role – while there was quite a lot of reporting following the formal resolution on the Agenda 2030, media interest in SDGs gradually tapered off and dwindled to the point where their presence in the various Austrian media outlets is fairly low.
Also, the way the SDGs have been presented so far was too abstract with the human aspect largely missing, criticized UNIDO’s Media Officer Coco, who included his organization in his criticism by pointing out that UNIDO has also been behind in its efforts to boost the SDGs’ popularity with the public. As it was now, the citizens did not sufficiently identify with the Goals since they had no idea how they were connected with their lives. To remedy this shortcoming, it was necessary to strengthen the partnership and cooperation between UNIDO regarding SDG publicity and implementation.
Following this assessment of the status quo, each of the stakeholders present gave an overview on SDG-related activities in their respective companies or organizations. Not surprisingly, the bottom line was once again that, while much was already being done, the formal connection with the SDGs was largely missing and therefore people frequently failed to realize that the different projects and activities they were involved in had an SDG-related context.
However, the discussion also showed that in some organizations and institutions, a conscious effort to align projects and activities formally with the SDGs was already made. Günter Benischek, CEO of Zweite Sparkasse and Head of Social Banking at Erste Bank referred in this regard to his bank’s long-standing efforts to create SDG-aligned products and services for its customers. Sandra Frauenberger, head of the umbrella organization of Vienna’s social institutions and member of the Municipal Council, pointed to the existence of coordination groups in the city and district governments and also to SDG-related efforts by her own party, the Social Democrats, where a discussion was under way regarding which of the Goals should be incorporated into the party’s different political and social programs and initiatives. On the university level, progress has likewise been made – a fact that was underscored by Anna Steiger from the Technical University and Margarethe Rammerstorfer from the University of Economics. Both women emphasized that their universities were active in evaluating and implementing the SDGs. In this context, the question of how to measure the impact of SDG-related projects and activities was raised. There was general consensus on the necessity to have a standardized procedure for assessment and measurement in place – and indeed, the University of Economics is in the process of developing such a measurement tool.
Regarding the question of what could and should be done to enhance the presence of the SDGs in the public awareness, the participants were agreed that schools, universities, political organizations and especially the media need to become more active in promoting the SDGs and in bringing them to the public. All participants also committed – in writing, by signing their names on a big poster with the SDG logo on it! – to working on championing the SDGs – both within their companies and organizations and as members of the working group of experts within the framework of the Social City/imfino Solution Talks.
The first event will take place at UNIDO on September 14, 2018, tackling SDG 9. We will keep you posted!
About Social City
Social City Vienna is a platform for societal and social innovation where projects and initiatives are launched and supported in five major areas: matching, community, education, sustainability and communication. The work of Social City Vienna is aimed at initiating new projects and improving the networking, knowledge transfer and sharing of experience regarding already existing projects and initiatives. One of its major objectives is bringing together the city’s stakeholders through the Social City advisory board.For more information about Social City Vienna, go to: http://www.socialcity.at/de/
Imfino (short for: Impact Finance Organization) is a global online platform which aims to connect impact investors with impact investment opportunities (entrepreneurs) meeting their investment requirements. Given the low rates of return achievable on the market, investors are looking for additional benefits. At the same time, humanity faces enormous challenges that need urgent solutions on a global scale, as detailed within the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Impact Investing aims to produce a positive social and/or environmental impact along with a return on investment. To date, there is no global initiative offering an adequate link between interested investors and entrepreneurs, combined with a knowledge base on the industry and impact measurement tools. For more information about imfino, go to: https://imfino.com/en/
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