Not only are we living in the midst of a global pandemic with devastating health, social and economic impacts that threaten to reverse much of the progress that has been made, but 2020 also highlighted the need for urgent collective action in this Decade of Action. There are only ten years left until the target date set out for the realization of the SDGs and unprecedented mobilization, ambition and delivery are necessary to meet this objective.
On October 23rd, the team at UNU Macau opened our doors for the first time to our partners and the interested public for the coinciding celebrations of UN Day and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. We showcased our current research projects and in the spirit of the day, used a number of fun and interactive games and workshops to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the challenges we face together in a deeply interconnected world. This marks the beginning of our efforts towards the localization of the SDGs and contribution to sustainable urbanization in Macau, both of which are deemed critical to building back better in a post COVID-19 world.
On this day, our team brought forward the importance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in achieving the SDGs milestone by 2030, through developments in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), migrant technology, cyber resilience, and gender equality in the digital age. Given the diverse backgrounds of our audience, ranging from university students to the private sector to civil society organizations, we had to get creative with our content and messaging to ensure it was both tangible and interesting to everyone. After some opening remarks, we tested the audience’s knowledge of the SDGs, overarching themes in global development, and the most up-to-date projections of adverse impacts caused by COVID-19. The answers to these questions helped to set the stage for the day and demonstrated that although humanity has collectively achieved remarkable success in many areas over the past few decades, we still have a long way to go. Throughout the day we also gave away SDG pins, to serve as a small reminder of the inspiring blueprint we have through which each and every one of us has a role to play in achieving the Global Goals.
As a precursor to our UN Day activities, we gave Macau local citizens, ranging from children to the elderly, tours of the historic heritage building that now hosts Macau’s only UN agency. For the first time in decades, Macau citizens had a personal experience learning about the century-old neoclassical architecture and its evolution from the residence of a renowned Portuguese Sinologist named Manuel da Silva Mendes to the current UN research institute advancing ICT for development.
As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarked on the role that the UN has to play in these tumultuous and uncertain times, “our founding mission is more critical than ever.” UN Day provided the opportune moment for reflecting on where we started, celebrating how far we have come, and setting our sights on a better and more sustainable future for all.
About the authors
Michael Gallo is a Research Assistant at the United Nations University Institute in Macau working on the Migrant Tech project Apprise. His research interests include the application of public health methodologies and conceptual frameworks to modern slavery, and the intersection of health, human rights, and access to justice.
Christy Un is a Visiting Research Assistant with the Cyber Resilience project at the United Nations University Institute in Macau. She finds meaning in empowering local and disadvantaged communities by telling their stories and searching for inclusive sustainable development solutions for them.