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Photo by: David Löcker
Photo by David Löcker

How can ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development be increased?

By Flávia Alfenas and Jörg Reckhenrich

During the Future Affairs Berlin 2019 conference at the Federal Foreign Office on 29 May, where representatives from Germany, Latin America and the Caribbean discussed how future technologies are transforming global diplomacy and creating new challenges, Flávia hosted the GDL Session “Co-creating a digital agenda for peace and sustainable development”. In her session, she invited the participants to reflect on the digital transformation, its challenges and opportunities for the Agenda 2030.

Jörg: The 2030 Agenda is a broad framework which takes into account the different dimensions of sustainable development. How do you break the SDGs down into something concrete?

Flávia: A group of colleagues and I created a session on “SDGs and behavioural change: moving towards action”. We wanted to address the challenge of implementing the 2030 Agenda at an individual and a community level. The key question is: how can we transfer the 2030 Agenda into daily life? We start with the individual context and personal stories of the participants. Then we link this information to the SDGs. We named our approach “The Bookinho”. It is a concept that combines elements of storytelling, gamification and prototyping. The goal is to encourage participants to come up with concrete ideas to align their behaviour with the SDGs. This approach includes self-reflection exercises and a life-sized SDG board game, the “Sustainable Ideas Game”. The participants are engaged in an open and playful dialogue to come up with feasible ideas. Once the ideas are generated, we break them down into concrete project development steps.

Jörg: The format is very interactive. How did it all start?

Flávia: In 2017, I participated in the Managing Global Governance programme (MGG Academy). It brings together young professionals from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, Indonesia, China and Europe. The goal is to engage the participants in a dialogue and learning process on global challenges. It is financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the German Development Institute (DIE).

The concept was developed during the MGG Academy by a group of professionals – Adi Yudanto (Indonesia), Diego Zubillaga (Mexico), Refilwe Nkomo (South Africa), and Rafael Andrezo and myself from Brazil. Our interest stemmed from our own observations about the difficulty in aligning our daily life to the SDGs. We were interested in seeing which elements influence and trigger behavioural change best. We systematically started with an interactive approach. We interviewed artists, activists, researches, educators and leadership trainers, as well as people like us, who sense the urgency of individual transformation.

Jörg: What were the insights from these interviews?

Flávia: For instance, we learned how important it is to have a broad variety of stakeholders at the table. Everybody brings in their own perspective, both personal and professional. That must be taken into account and balanced out. Based on the results of our research, we started to develop “The Bookinho”. We wanted to foster engagement and stimulate individual transformation.

Jörg: Did “The Bookinho” also have an impact on you yourself?

Flávia: When I went back to Brazil I wanted to engage in the ecosystem of social innovation. Therefore, I founded the social innovation lab Zebralab. I thought about transformative leadership and how to contribute to a positive narrative regarding global challenges.

Jörg: Your session at the Forum: Future Affairs included a gamification aspect. Where did this idea come from?

Flávia: The structure I used during the session was a tailored version of the “Sustainable Ideas Game”. It is the interactive part of “The Bookinho” approach. It was specifically designed for the direction and goals of the conference: to mix people on a broader level through interaction. It is a good example of the adaptability of the original approach to different settings.

Jörg: Where else has this approach been used? Can you give me some examples?

Flávia: It was part of a “Game Zone” during the UN Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany, in March 2018. It was also presented at a brown bag meeting at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference and in a workshop format during the UN Summer Academy in August 2018. Further, it was part of the opening week of Managing Global Governance 2018 at the German Development Institute (DIE). It has also been used at universities and government institutions in Brazil.

Jörg: Doing these activities, what inspires you most?

Flávia: I am passionate about experimental, open and interactive learning approaches. I like to understand how these can help to drive social change individually and at community level. The learning process fascinates me. I truly believe in collaboration. I see myself as a person who invites others and provides the appropriate framework. I want to foster a fruitful discussion and projects that focus on concrete achievements.

Published on October 08, 2019.

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Flávia Alfenas Amorim

Flávia is a demographer and social entrepreneur who works in the field of education for sustainable development. She is passionate about innovative and interactive learning experiences and understanding how this can help to drive social change at the individual and community level. The learning process in itself is what fascinates her. She is interested in identifying and building networks to shape a new positive narrative around global challenges.

From 2011 to 2017, Flávia worked as a researcher and consultant at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) – one of the top 10 think tanks in the world. She assisted public, business and third sector organisations in Brazil with the development of projects in the areas of sustainable development, social economy, finance, management and public policy. In 2018, Flávia founded ZEBRALAB, a collaborative space for co-creating innovative solutions to tackle complex global challenges by mainstreaming and implementing the 2030 Agenda. In this field, she works as a consultant at National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO), volunteers at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and acts as a facilitator for national and international training courses and conferences.

Flávia graduated in Economic Sciences and holds a PhD in Demography from the Center for Regional Development and Planning at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. During her PhD studies, she joined the ESRC Centre for Population Change at the University of Southampton, UK, as a visiting PhD researcher. She is also a fellow of Managing Global Governance (MGG Academy), an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the German Development Institute (DIE).


Get to know her opinion on how ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be increased in this interview.

Jörg Reckhenrich

Jörg was born in Münster and studied at the local art academy. From early on he was interested in the ideas of the artist Joseph Beuys and the introduction of the concept of social sculpture. In 1988 he moved to Berlin to study art and cultural management.  He began to exhibit and to work for several art institutes. In 1999, he began working with organizations and business schools transferring creative principles to the world of organizations. Later he attended an education program on systemic consultancy.

Recently, he was trained in positive psychology, which is now a cornerstone of his work. In his art projects he reflects on the human condition. Jörg loves to combine intensive reflecting on art with coaching sessions, focussing especially on personal growth, writes articles and teach on creative leadership. He is married, a father of two children and loves to sail.


You can learn more about Jörg and his creative approaches to social and political challenges in his newest blog article

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