Wikimedia Deutschland/Free Knowledge and SDGs/SDGs

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Together we are stronger: Wikimedia and the 17 goals for a better world

From 14 to 18 August 2019, almost 1,000 Wikimedia activists will meet at the annual Wikimania. This year's conference at Stockholm University will focus on one major theme: How can Wikimedia improve the world through the United Nations' sustainable development goals? A programme of lectures, discussions and workshops will get to the bottom of this issue.

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted 17 goals for sustainable development. They are intended to secure sustainable development at the economic, social and ecological levels. But how can Wikipedia as an online encyclopedia and other Wikimedia projects support the implementation of these goals?

More than 900 active members of Wikipedia, the sister projects and the numerous Wikimedia organisations will be dedicating themselves to this exciting question. Even if the motto may sound abstract at first glance, it is an interesting approach: If we understand Wikipedia and its sister projects – primarily the free media archive Wikimedia Commons and the free database Wikidata - not only as a goal per se, but also as a tool for larger goals, completely new perspectives will open up. In a packed conference program, the active participants at Wikimania will show, for example, how Wikimedia can help to strengthen human rights locally or how online presence can strengthen gender diversity. Others show, for example, how open data can be used to combat corruption.

The entire Wikimedia movement – and this is an outstanding aspect of this conference motto – no longer stands on its own, but follows on from existing and ongoing discourses around the world. Wikimedia thus sees itself as part of the global civil society working for a better world.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of Free Knowledge

In the process of creating and arranging global development goals, the United Nations Assembly differentiated major fields, which are grouped into areas: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity. The Human Needs are represented in selected goals such as nutrition, shelter & safety. A broader set of goals is describing the elements, supporting Wellbeing. The Opportunity sector includes Personal Rights, Personal Freedom & Choice, Inclusiveness and Access to Advanced Education.

The 17 goals are targeting economic, social and environmental issues. For the discussion and use of particular goals in the context of Free Knowledge, goal no. 4 Quality Education seems more relatable than for example the environmental goals. Open data and free knowledge strongly supports goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth which hints to 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities and 10 Reduced Inequalities. The last two goals on the list are  no.16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and 17 Partnerships. Seven to nine SDGs can straightforwardly be related to the context of Free Knowledge and the concept of sharing information.

The collective of 17 goals appear as an unplanned mix of colors & numbers. They generally rank up along the 5 Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. UN's Agenda 2030 lists 169 associated targets, which are integrated and indivisible, but also invites to take over the baton and create plans and actions to communicate and process the SDGs. The SDGs are motivation and invitation; they have been handed over to make use of them. They shall ignite thinking and discussion around the own surrounding. They are there as inspiration as much as verification to be on the right track and in line with the honorable UN values.