SDG Festival 2019

Georgia's remote and rural regions are exploring new opportunities for sustainable development

July 2, 2019

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Thousands of Georgians gathered in the town of Ambrolauri on 7 June 2019 to take part in the country’s second national Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Festival, initiated and organized by the United Nations in Georgia. The slogan of this year’s edition of the Festival echoed the core theme of sustainable development to “Leave No One Behind.”

The SDG Festival transformed public space in Ambrolauri into a colourful display of activities illustrating the country’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The busy agenda included sport activities, interactive seminars and workshops, talks and exhibitions featuring SDG activists and supporters from different walks of life – writers, artists, researchers, students, teachers, school children, farmers, diplomats and politicians.

The Festival was organized with the support of a wide range of partners, including UN agencies and donors, the Government of Georgia, the administration of the Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti region, Ambrolauri Municipality, and many others.

This story attempts at showing the Festival day through the eyes of its organisers and participants.

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Sabine Machl, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia

"We are here in Ambrolauri to discuss the SDGs and how they relate to human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability with people directly. We hope the private sector, government, civil society, media, academia and all of you will join our work towards achieving these very ambitious goals."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia

"Georgia needs to protect its extraordinary nature. It’s our duty to achieve development in a way that protects both, the natural resources and the people, and preserves our country as a part of the world’s heritage." 

Photo: Leli Blagonravova/UNDP

Louisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia

"The 17 Sustainable Development Goals sound like a very big agenda, but it can be summarized in a very simple phrase - to leave no one behind. That means to look out to the interests of those who are suffering from poverty, who are vulnerable, but also to look out to the regions and communities that are missing out on the benefits of economic growth."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Irma Khesturiani, World Champion in Wheelchair Fencing, Georgia’s Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals

"I am honoured with an opportunity to talk to people about sustainable development and explain how it contributes to the country’s progress and our personal progress too. I will do whatever it takes to promote the SDGs. I firmly believe that our joint efforts will bring positive results."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Archil Japaridze, Governor of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti                     

"Hosting the SDG Festival in Ambrolauri is a great opportunity for our region.  Sustainable development and more visibility are exactly what we need here. Migration is the biggest challenge we are facing in Racha. We need to catch up with development to reverse that process and turn Racha into a good place to live in and a popular destination for visitors."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

H.E. Patric Franzen, Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia

"Switzerland was strongly committed to the development of the 2030 Agenda and is now working to implement it through its foreign policy and development cooperation. We focus on education and training, good governance, inclusive growth and climate adaptation as the foundation for sustainable development in Georgia."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Elizabeth Rood, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy to Georgia

"Georgia’s regions are a great source of developmental opportunities that can be unlocked by the consistent policies and a greater engagement of citizens in the development process. In Georgia, as in many other countries, the commitment to sustainable development is the way to tackle poverty, address environmental challenges and enhance our joint action for human rights and equality."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Mzia Sharashidze, Deputy Head of the Tbilisi Zoo

"In Georgia, environment protection is usually associated with planting trees and picking up trash, though it’s often forgotten that we have a variety of wild animals’ species and they need our protection too. Our goal is to encourage people to take more care of the wildlife. It’s crucially important to save Georgia’s biodiversity. People need to take more responsibility for the protection of endangered species, it is our common civic duty."

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Giorgi Isakadze, Founder and owner of the resort Glamping in Ambrolauri

"I believe that Racha’s natural beauty and the endemic varieties of grapes are the main assets in terms of touristic development of our region. We need modern, attractive and fascinating touristic venues to bring more visitors to the region."  

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Nana Dikhaminjia, Professor of Ilia State University

"Gender equality remains a challenge in Georgia. Women hold only 20% of jobs in the field of technology which creates most wanted and best-paid professions and gives people an opportunity to become economically sustainable and fully realize their potential. It’s vital to educate girls in technology-related subjects and give women a chance to join the ranks of tech-professionals. By doing this, we will support economic empowerment of women and will promote the national development."