ChangeX will help UN to seed 20m community projects by 2030

12 Sep 2018

Foreground, from left: Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary General; Niamh McKenna, impact head at ChangeX; Geraldine Byrne Nason, Irish ambassador to the UN; and ChangeX founder Paul O’Hara. Image: Allen Kiely

Collaborative effort from ChangeX and UN aims to impact more than 1bn people.

An Irish social entrepreneurship start-up will be the driving force behind the UN’s ability to harness technology to ramp up its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 20m community projects by 2030.

Dublin-headquartered ChangeX has agreed to align with the UN SDGs to power education, health, wellbeing and climate change projects around the world.

‘Local communities, whether in Rwanda or in Ireland, are the bedrock for transformational change like empowering women and girls, tackling climate change and reducing inequalities’

The SDGs are a global roadmap led by the UN to end poverty, fight climate change, and promote prosperity and wellbeing for people everywhere. The 17 measurable goals hold governments, businesses, foundations, academics and civil society accountable to the progress they make until 2030, in the aim to create a better and more sustainable future for all.

Time for tech to take up the baton

ChangeX and partners will package and distribute 1,000 of the best ideas in the world that communities can organise around and that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

Together, they have mobilised 7,300 new community projects, impacting more than 250,000 people since starting three years ago. Achieving the UN’s 20m-projects goal requires doubling in size each year to 2030, while mobilising more than $5bn in investment through its impact marketplace.

“Governments and non-profits drove the excellent progress of the Millennium Development Goals between 2000 and 2015,” said ChangeX founder and CEO Paul O’Hara. “Now, technology gives us unprecedented opportunity to mobilise grassroots movements behind delivering these goals, and we believe ChangeX is well placed to cultivate this.”

ChangeX is a marketplace that connects ideas for building thriving communities with teams who can establish local initiatives and those with the resources to support. These include ideas such as Parkrun, Grow it Yourself, Men’s Shed and Street Feast, which have been adopted and started by teachers, healthcare professionals, community workers and other proactive citizens.

A previous Start-up of the Week, ChangeX launched in Ireland three years ago, backed by leading technology investors, and in the US last year, backed by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ChangeX impact customers include AIB and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The ChangeX alignment with the UN SDGs builds on their partnership with the Social Progress Index for measuring progress of societies across the world.

Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary General, showed her support for the ambition of ChangeX on her visit to Dublin last week. “Local communities, whether in Rwanda or in Ireland, are the bedrock for transformational change like empowering women and girls, tackling climate change and reducing inequalities which can’t be achieved without the action and advocacy of citizens.

“We must do much more at all levels everywhere, to protect our planet and ensure prosperity for all. Governments, businesses and civil society have a collective responsibility to achieve the the SDGs by 2030.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years