How much do people in Austria know about the UN Sustainable Development Goals? – Insights and experiences on a climate hiking tour from Neusiedlersee to Bodensee
Vienna, November 29, 2018 - Putting into practice the principle of sustainability and inspiring others – this was what Angelina Wolf, project manager at oikos Vienna, and Sebastian Gerlich had in mind when they embarked on a two-month climate hiking tour though Austria on June 7, 2018. On this long hike, which was part of the EU-funded project Ecognize, they endeavoured to find out what the level of knowledge and awareness is among Austrians about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and where there is still need for information. Along the route, the two young people made stops to hold workshops on global challenges such as climate, consumption, and development - with a focus on climate action (SDG 13) - for children and young adults aged 10 – 14 in various schools. Back on the hiking path, they also sought to establish contact with the local population in order to exchange views on how to build a sustainable future for our society. Their experiences and impressions during their “climate hike” across Austria they wrote down in a blog and documented on Instagram.
The SDGs: Still Unknown, but Interesting!
Aside from the athletic challenge of the long hike, Angelina and Sebastian never lost track of their mission – to assess how much people in Austria know about the SDGs and to engage in dialogue with the civil society, politicians and the media in order to spread knowledge and information about the “Global Goals.”
At first sight, the result was sobering – Angelina and Sebastian hardly met anyone who knew about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However - and this is grounds for hope – the people they told about the goals and their substance were nearly all curious and interested in what the two young people had to say about them! That the SDG implementation was not just something for governments to accomplish, but that each one of us have to contribute was seen as motivation to advocate these goals: “Only through joint effort can we achieve anything!”
Climate Alliance Tyrol: „Global Goals Are Not for Dummies“
And in fact, a lot has already been done in the way of SDG implementation on a regional and local level. In Innsbruck, the climate wanderers visited an institution that has been working for the implementation of sustainability initiatives in communities, educational institutions and businesses for 20 years under the motto: “think global, act local”: the Climate Alliance Tyrol.
During a coffee break in the new office location of the Climate Alliance in downtown Innsbruck, six female Alliance staff members reported on their SDG information work. The Climate Alliance Tyrol produces SDG-related information material (for instance an informative brochure bearing the title “Global Goals are not for Dummies.” In addition, the Alliance seeks to draw attention to several of the goals by organizing events, projects and initiatives.
Climate Protection with DoublePlus
One of the initiatives of the Climate Alliance Tyrol bears the symbolic name “DoublePlus.” This initiative is dedicated to instructing volunteers regarding how to advise low-income households on climate protection and improvement of energy efficiency in the areas of housing, heating, electricity, mobility, and nutrition. The most amazing thing is that this counselling initiative involves at least 10 of the 17 SDGs (No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Affordable and Clean Energy, Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life on Land, Partnerships for the Goals). More information can be found under: https://www.doppelplus.tirol/de/home/
And by the way, the participants of such a counselling also learn that, aside from doing something for the environment and the climate, they can actually save money at the same time. Also, a sustainable life style offers new perspectives. “Simply experience how good it feels to organize a green event with wonderful vegetarian food, where you do something for your health by taking the bike instead of the car, protecting the climate at the same time - or how relaxing and stress-free it feels to spend the vacation hiking through Austria without flying for hours and hours before getting to your destination,” Angelina enthuses in a blog entry.
Hiking through Austria with the SDGs – What Was the Benefit?
At the end of their two-months-long climate hiking tour through Austria, Angelina and Sebastian were convinced that they were not just successful in to spread the message about the SDGs, but also learned a lot about their country in the process - and also about themselves. Hiking brought them into contact with many different people and the fact that they were able to tell them about the SDGs and get them to reflect about sustainability has helped their own personality development as well.
„Moving out of your own bubble” – this was Angelina’s way of expressing her reason for leaving behind, at least for some time, her own small world full of people who are more or less on the same (sustainable) wavelength, and instead engage in a dialogue with completely different people, most of whom have never even heard of the SDGs and with whom to interact nevertheless turned out to be surprisingly easy. At any rate, she was able to carry out her plan of promoting the sustainability goals in Austria. “What we did was to bring down the SDGs from this pedestal of the remote “Global Goals” on which they stood. By connecting them with real opportunities and responsibilities, we were able to communicate the substance of the goals to the people and show them how to integrate them into their world,” Angelina is convinced.
In the final analysis, Angelina Wolf and Sebastian Gerlich see their hiking tour as an ongoing project: “Our journey will not end at the Bodensee.”
This is hardly surprising – after all, their goal is a sustainable future for all – and this journey has only just begun!
Links to the Blog Entries:
The project “Climate Hiking” was embedded in the larger project Ecognize, which was founded by oikos Vienna together with the „Eco-social Student Forum“ – a congregation of students and university graduates who are committed to eco-social models for the economy and society.
“ECOGNIZE goes Climate Hiking” was funded by a European Union grant (within the framework of the project “Make Europe Sustainable for All”).
oikos Vienna is a student-driven organization for sustainable economics and management at the Vienna University for Economics and Business. The goal is to empower future leaders to drive change towards sustainability. oikos Vienna provides platforms for learning, creating and sharing solutions. Conferences, seminars, speeches, simulation games and other initiatives focusing on different aspects of sustainable development are organized. oikos also promotes the integration of sustainability in curricula.
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© BILD: Angelina Wolf and Sebastian Gerlich