Pioneers in SDGs 2021: Awards Ceremony

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Pioneers in SDGs 2021: Awards Ceremony
20 September 2022, Tuesday | John Jay College of Criminal Justice

On September 15, 2021, the Journalists and Writers Foundation and its 36 Global Partners celebrated the contributions of civil society organizations to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals during the 3rd Annual Pioneers in SDGs Awards Ceremony. This year, 47 outstanding individuals and organizations participated in the project competition with 30 amazing projects from 20 different countries. The international jury members evaluated these projects and their outcomes based on four criteria: innovation, stakeholders, scope, and impact. The winners were announced during the virtual Pioneers in SDGs Awards Ceremony on September 15, 2021.


The Awards Ceremony began with a warm welcome by Mr. Tomaczek Bednarek, an acclaimed award-winning producer, successful executive and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in multimedia. In his opening speech, Mr. Bedanrek said: “We are here to pay tribute to outstanding individuals and organizations that contribute to sustainable peace and development through innovative and creative projects. Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; protecting human rights, the rule of law, and democratic values; empowering women, girls, and youth for social justice and equal opportunities play an essential role in achieving sustainable development goals worldwide.”



In his Welcoming Remarks, Mr. Mehmet Kilic, President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, said: “Public-Private Partnerships are crucial in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. No one can achieve these goals by themselves. Governments, the private sector, and civil society have to work together in collaboration and communication to make this world a better place for all and make our world greener and cleaner for today and for the generations to come.


Ambassador Dr. Carlos Garcia,  former Ambassador of El Salvador to the United Nations and the Secretary-general of the United Nations Association of El Salvador, congratulated the participants and honored their efforts in his keynote speech, “I was shocked by all the creativity I saw in your projects.’ Dr Garcia acknowledged that the SDGs do not solve every major global issue, ‘but they give us a wonderful blueprint for sustainable development.”


1st Place Winner 2021 – The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (USA)

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (USA) won first place and the $2000 prize. Ms Shayna Vayser said, “The idea behind this project dates back to 2015 when the SDGs were first introduced, with the aim to bridge global goals with local action.” She explained that the project aims to bring ‘equitable development not just internationally but within our own neighbourhoods. We are inspired by community, rooted in community, serving the community.’

2nd Place Winne2021 – Honey and Banana Platform (Nigeria)

The 2nd place winner was the Honey and Banana Platform from Nigeria. Ms Onuoha Chidinma Stella, who received the award and the $1000 prize on behalf of the Deep K. Tyagi Foundation (Nigeria) said, “The Honey and Banana Platform has been going on for 3 years now, the major aim is to talk to vulnerable populations, and to give them a great family planning service.’ She also noted, ‘Women don’t want to be judged so they are seeking places where they have privacy. That’s the beauty of the Honey and Banana Project.”


3rd Place Winner 2021 – The Smile of the Child (Greece)
The ceremony continued with the announcement of the 3rd place winner and recipient of the $500 cash prize. The award went to The Smile of the Child (Greece) for their mobile blood donation collection project. The project was set up during the pandemic to address the issues of blood shortages in Greek hospitals. Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, who received the award said, “Smile of the Child was founded by a 10-year-old child. Thirty-five years later, the organisation is the biggest charity fighting to protect children in Greece. We are saving the lives of many children in Greece during the Covid-19 pandemic with this project.”


Other Award Winners in different Categories included:


Innovation Award 2021: Dream Learn Work (Brazil)

Stakeholders Award 2021: (1) Ilitha Labantu (South Africa) and (2) Municipal Health Secretariat of São Paulo – Tellus Institute – Novartis Foundation (Brazil)

Scope Award 2021: Liberian Youth Foundation (Liberia)

Impact Award 2021: Generation W (USA)

Changemakers Award 2021: (1) Intercultural Dialogue Platform (Belgium), (2) CIST East Africa Industries (Kenya) and (3) Green Hope Foundation (Bangladesh).


The Pioneers in SDGs Award Ceremony ended with Mr. Tomazcek Bednarek’s closing remarks: ‘Today, we’ve celebrated many men and women’s altruistic efforts to make the world a better place. Your works are a blessing for all of us to cherish. You truly are making this world a better place.