Experimental Civics

@experimentalcivics

Maximize your hackathon impact by adopting the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development

If the point of a hackathon is to generate change, and the point of change is to make the lives of people in the community better, then doesn’t it make sense to adopt some common goals? Luckily, the United Nations has done just that, and established a framework of goals that we can use to make our hacks more connected and effective.

Courtesy of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

I feel like I’m always repeating this, but I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to connect the dots globally and adopt a common language as the beginning of serious change. To that end, I’m a huge advocate for adopting the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development because I truly feel that this is an awesome language to get started with.

The UN Global Goals were developed and approved by the UN General Assembly in September 2017. Essentially, if completed by 2030, these goals are meant to significantly change the world by ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality, and solving global climate change. The UN specified 17 individual goals, which can seem overwhelming, but I think they’re goals every hackathon should want to strive for.

While I could explain how each of these goals is relevant and go on and on about how important and amazing they are, this blog post would be way too long, so instead, here’s a link so you can see how awesome they are for yourself: http://www.globalgoals.org/

What I’d like to focus on here are some of the best strategies for incorporating UN Global Goals into your event, because one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Where do I even begin using these and starting to hack them?”

Let’s start with Goal 4, which is defined as, “Quality Education: ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” For our ATX Hack for Change 2017 event, we actually had folks select a UN Global Goal as a project category. Yes, some projects spanned across several of the goals, but choosing from these goals pushed people to redefine the goal for themselves and their project.

ATX Hack for Change 2017 | Thanks @atxgo

I bet you’re thinking, “Great, we have projects in organized categories. Now what?” Well, this basically enables the conversation to continue after the hackathon event. In my vision, if we’re hosting lots of civic hackathons (50+) a year, and all of those hackathons are focusing on these same goals, then we can build measurable success for each of them and eventually start coordinating our efforts across different events, cities, and projects. WHOA. Mind blown, right?

Now the goals are overarching, but don’t get intimidated by where your ideas ultimately land. This is just a chance to re-envision how you’re thinking about your project. Categorization might even push you to learn something new about the idea you have and steer it in another direction instead.

Overlap is awesome. Yes, your project could be in multiple goal buckets, but doesn’t that make it even more badass? You’re starting to not only bridge ideas and concepts that are different from one another, but maybe these ideas have never been put together like you’re suggesting — own your unique approach!

Another question I get a lot is, “Should every hackathon event have them?” Absolutely. I plan to take them to any event that I’m part of and start connecting the dots beyond just the projects and categories themselves. We have so much good work happening at hackathons, and the overall goal for experimental civics is to web our efforts into lasting success — the UN Global Goals is the perfect way to do that!

If I haven’t convinced you to adopt them or you want to further about how to do it, reach out to me through experimentalcivics.io and let’s talk.

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