ACT NOW with You: From Online Advocacy to Offline Action for the SDGs

December 29, 2023
ACT NOW with You Campaign participants

Participants in the “Act Now with You” Campaign

At the midpoint of our journey towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our planet and its inhabitants stand at a crossroads. With only 15% of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on track and a troubling regression in 30%, the call for action has never been more urgent.

That's why we wanted to design a campaign to advocate for and raise awareness about the 17 SDGs in China, reaching diverse audiences nationwide, leaving no one behind, and encouraging them to take immediate action towards achieving the SDGs.

Our "Act Now with You" campaign is an example of how social media can be utilized to spark a hybrid movement that combines digital outreach with offline mobilization to create positive change.

The campaign not only attracted 250+ million views on social media but also increased SDG awareness nationwide. Furthermore, the campaign resulted in the organization of over 140 offline events, where more than 5000 individuals took real-world actions within a week, answering our call to take action. This campaign was much more than a simple communications approach, as it inspired and motivated people to take tangible steps towards creating a better world.


A Dual-Pronged Strategy: Spreading Awareness and Inspiring Action

We knew that in order to accelerate action towards achieving the SDGs, our campaign must extend beyond raising awareness in the digital realm to inspiring offline actions. Therefore, our approach was twofold: to spread awareness far and wide and deepen engagement by encouraging concrete action.

The Power of Influence: Mobilizing Celebrities and KOLs

We officially launched the "Act Now with You" campaign on August 16th. In order to localize SDG awareness and reach the youth, we collaborated with local influencers, celebrities, and key opinion leaders in China, leveraging their following and reach to spread UNDP's message. More than 20 renowned individuals, who we believed would resonate with young people, were carefully selected for the campaign. We invited them to share their personal sustainable lifestyle tips with their followers online. Their unique messages, tailored to their lifestyles and interests, resonated deeply with the millions who follow them. Actor JC-T, for example, showcased his commitment by sharing that he used a thermos cup instead of a plastic cup while on set. Actress Zhao Lusi's advice on wildlife encounters showed her love for animals as an owner of 2 pet dogs, inspiring her followers to be more considerate of animals' wellbeing. This approach not only amplified our message but also reinforced the celebrities' own commitment to sustainability, benefitting everyone involved.
Catch a glimpse of the campaign's reach and impact in our wrap-up video.


Engaging the Public: From Online Views to Offline Action

Significant social media traction was just the beginning. Our campaign's true value was its ability to translate online engagement into offline action. During the SDG InnoWeek held in Chengdu (September 15-22), we challenged individuals and groups to transform social media support into real-world initiatives. The challenge was called "1x10 Action Marathon" and the rules are simple: First, propose an action to support SDGs. Second, call 10 friends to act together in the SDG InnoWeek. The response was overwhelming, with over 140 event proposals and more than 20 group activities organized across China. The activities ranged from greenway cycling and gender equality workshops to farmland visits for kids and empathy exercises for urban inclusivity. In the end, all of the materials left from the offline events were recycled either by painting them or transforming them into bags or other items.

Each offline participation demonstrated that there is an endless number of practical actions that can be incorporated into our everyday lives and help achieve the SDGs. More stories can be found via the Trello board.

Greenway cycling initiative

Gender equality workshop

Farmland visit for kids

Empathy exercises for urban inclusivity: how blind and visually impaired people can take public transportation

TED Talks: sharing stories about sustainability

Recycling leftover event materials

A Symbolic Beacon: Lighting Up the Chengdu Twin Towers
To leave a long-lasting impression of our campaign, we illuminated Chengdu's iconic Twin Towers with the ACT NOW slogan. This visual spectacle signifies a beacon of hope for realizing the SDGs amidst increasing uncertainty. Utilizing a public space as a platform for advocacy left a lasting impression on the collective memory of the city, which will continue to inspire the local community and create a sense of ownership and responsibility among the citizens towards their city and its future.

Act Now supporters taking a night city walk near the towers

The Ripple Effect: A Testament to Impact

Our experience with the "Act Now with You" campaign reaffirms that while social media can amplify a message, it is the echo of our actions that truly measures the impact of a campaign. Each step taken, from the celebrity endorsements to the SDG InnoWeek initiatives, demonstrates the powerful ripple effect of individual actions towards the collective achievement of the 17 Global Goals.

In conclusion, as we navigate the challenges of our time, "Act Now with You" stands as an example of the power of collective will and action. It is a call that continues to resonate, urging us to act immediately and together because every action, no matter how small it may seem, counts towards building a sustainable future for everyone, everywhere.

Act Now with You Campaign initiators: UNDP staff and partners


This blog is authored by PuNa ZHAO Yue, Innovation and Communications Officer of UNDP China, and edited by Farah Mubarak, International Communication Consultant of UNDP China.