Walking the walk on the Sustainable Development Goals

Do you want to learn more about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? A new game tests your knowledge about the SDGs and takes you on a treasure hunt through downtown Brussels.

Although the United Nations set the Sustainable Development Goals back in 2015, awareness about and knowledge of them amongst European citizens is patchy. Almost nine out of 10 EU citizens have either not heard about the SDGs (58%) or have heard about them but do not know what they are (29%), according to a survey conducted by Eurobarometer, the EU’s polling agency.

If you are not a member of the knowledgeable 10%, the Make Europe Sustainable for All (MESA) project, which has 25 members in 15 European countries, has just the ticket for you. It has developed a virtual treasure hunt based on the SDGs which you can play on your mobile phone.

“With this game we hope to bring clarity about the SDGs to people and to encourage them to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, coherent with the spirit of the SDGs,” said Eva Izquierdo, project officer for global policies and sustainability at the European Environmental Bureau, the lead partner on MESA.

After downloading and installing the ‘Spot the 17!’ game and scanning the relevant QR code, players in Brussels are ready to roll and to stroll. Using your phone’s geolocation abilities, the game leads you on a guided exploration of the wonders of the 17 SDGs and of the delights of the EU and Belgian capital.

The game, which was developed on behalf of MESA by the Greek NGO Fair Trade Hellas, is currently only available for Brussels, but versions for other cities may soon be in the pipeline. “This fun game can easily be replicated in different EU cities,” notes Izquierdo.

Spoiler alert

So what are the Sustainable Development Goals and why do they matter to you?

Without wishing to spoil ‘Spot the 17!’ for you, here is a brief overview of the SDGs.

Passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the SDGs succeeded the earlier Millennium Development Goals. The 17 SDGs, which should be achieved by 2030, include the eradication of poverty and hunger, promoting good health and wellbeing, quality education and gender equality. For the 17 goals, there are 169 targets.

Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs apply to every country in the world, not just the so-called global ‘South’. Despite this, Europeans are generally not aware that the SDGs apply to them too, and European policy-makers have not prioritised them, even though they are essential to the sustainability and fairness of European society.

This is the raison d’etre of the MESA project which seeks to raise awareness and understanding of the SDGs in Europe and to promote their ambitious implementation through advocacy and communications activities.

A sister project, SDG Watch Europe, a coalition of European NGOs which seeks to hold governments to account for the implementation of the SDGs by 2030.