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Activating Millennial Changemakers for a Decade of Delivery

Overcoming pessimism to realize Nelson Mandela’s dream by 2030

Unlocking the potential of the Great Generation that Mandela called for: Activating millennial changemakers for a decade of delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals (a global survey - released by Glocalities in the centenary year of the birth of Nelson Mandela)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done" (Nelson Mandela)

Global surveys from Glocalities/Global Citizen and the Gapminder Foundation reveal that the world population is very pessimistic about the state of the world. A lack of hope is paralyzing and undermines the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) movement. In order to boost awareness of which actions citizens and leaders in each country need to take to achieve the SDGs, it is pivotal to move beyond ‘echo pit’ communications among audiences that are already involved with the SDGs and reach out to much larger audiences.

Martijn Lampert gave a very inspiring TedX talk on the topic in Johannesburg:

The harsh reality based on SDG index research is that no single country is on track in achieving the goals. Although we have all solutions and technologies in place, too many leaders fail in securing a better future for the people in their countries. To start resonating with the hearts and minds of large majorities, the SDGs movement needs to be taken to the next level by building upon people's talents and passions and actively involving Millennial leaders and inspirational changemakers from all countries.

On 2 December 2018, the international community celebrates the centenary year of the birth of Nelson Mandela. At the center of this is the Global Citizen Mandela 100 Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. This celebration provides a unique opportunity to give new impetus to the SDGs movement, by presenting this new global study about activating a new generation of changemakers.

“Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom” (Nelson Mandela)

In order to realize a mass movement around the SDGs, we cannot rely on political, business and NGO leaders only. We need to tap into the wisdom of the crowd and create a bottom-up movement and an abundance of positive people power to realize the SDGs in every single country and community. In this study, we present how the Tipping Point theory of Malcolm Gladwell can be put into practice by connecting the SDGs with Millennials passions and talents. To achieve the SDGs people have to work together, use the best and proven solutions and take action.

The key to broaden the base of support and activate Millennial changemakers is to connect with their passions and lifestyle. There is no one-fits-all approach that captures the diversity of values and lifestyles among Millennials. Instead, we recommend a targeted approach in which Millennials are activated based on their lifestyle and potential.

Some examples from our research:

Millennials who like science fiction movies are more likely mobilize on SDG#7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Millennials who like science fiction movies are more likely mobilize on SDG#7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Beyonce fans are more likely to demand change on SDG#5: Gender Equality

Beyonce fans are more likely to demand change on SDG#5: Gender Equality

These are only two of the examples featured in the report. Taking a more targeted approach and holistic view of the values and passions of millennials also offers new ways of engaging global brands with the SDGs. They can have a huge impact for the good if they adapt their policies, contribute to realizing the SDGs and align their brand narrative with targeted messages about the SDGs that resonate with their consumer audiences.

Building on years of cross-cultural research experience, we conclude with suggesting a four-step approach for bringing the SDGs closer to Millennials worldwide.

Want to learn more? Download the report for free (with the download form above).
For more information about the survey:

Glocalities Research Director Martijn Lampert:


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The current whitepaper is a follow-up study of our earlier global survey report "Increasing knowledge and activating Millennials for making poverty history".

Read more & download the free report:


Martijn Lampert

Research Director

+31 20 589 83 70

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