NGDO Platform finds innovative ways to engage Lithuanians on the SDGs

For several years, polls have consistently shown that the SDGs remain a mystery to many in Lithuania. This year, in order to change the statistics and create more awareness, the Lithuanian NGDO Platform chose several interactive methods for our SDGs campaign, from creating SDG ambassadors, running a hackathon to tackle human trafficking, to using forum theatre to encourage greater understanding and empathy.

The first and by far the most successful initiative was the SDGs Ambassadors – this involved dozens of people who had had very little prior knowledge on what the SDGs were. The response to the call to organise workshops to present the SDGs was overwhelming – it was clear evidence people do want to get involved in global topics, these just need to be presented in an engaging way. Largely self-organised, this campaign reached the furthest corners of the country, including youth and community centres, secondary schools, and universities.

Another initiative was a Hackathon/Hack for Development, where 42 ICT students from Kaunas University of Technology’s gifted program were invited to come up with solutions via technology to global challenges such as human trafficking together with development and ICT experts. As the Hackathon also involved ICT businesses, many new partnerships were formed, and the winning solution got the chance to be developed as an app.

NGDO Platform also used forum theatre (part of the Theatre of the Oppressed, an applied theatre method) to invite people to be the trigger for change themselves. Forum theatre is a participatory practice where actors present a conflict situation relevant to the audience, in which the audience is then asked to intervene suggesting possible solutions. Based on equality and understanding, we had professional actors enact through stories what it feels like to be Muslim in Lithuania.

With rising islamophobia and hatred towards migrants and refugees, we used this method to provoke open, honest discussions among members of the public, many of whom later reported that the experience helped them challenge their own preconceived notions as well as think about openness from a different perspective. The goal was to create greater cultural awareness and tolerance and challenges preconceptions on inequality, migration and emigration, and equal opportunities.

Additionally, more conventional methods were used in the campaign, including a photography exhibition raising questions about resource exploitation across the globe, various panel discussions involving politicians, representatives from the NGO sector, and the media, as well as interactive workshops introducing SDGs in educational institutions. A colourful informational leaflet featuring the world’s best practices on the SDGs was created specifically for the campaign and 3,000 copies were distributed and available in libraries, youth centres, and popular cafes.

The National Non-Governmental Development Cooperation Organisations’ Platform (Lithuanian NGDO Platform – www.pagalba.org) brings together 21 Lithuanian non-governmental organisations working in the field of development cooperation and development/global education. NGDO Platform was established on 29 March 2007.

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