Six Community Groups Honoured for Furthering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Six community groups honoured at an awards ceremony in Dublin Castle on Friday, 18 October for their efforts to further the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The winners were among 64 community and voluntary groups that took part in the Spark Change project  which was developed by The Wheel and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Over the past year, dozens of community and voluntary groups across Ireland have been working on projects to make Ireland more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This evening, the Spark Change Awards shone a light on their inspiring stories.

The awardees’ work spans a wide range of activities linked to the SDGs,  which is a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. The SDGs are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

Commenting on the announcement of the winners, Deirdre Garvey CEO of The Wheel said, “The Spark Change programme shows how the activities of community and voluntary organisations are directly contributing to Ireland’s commitment to achieving the SDGs by 2030. If Ireland is serious about its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, then this work should be adequately supported and resourced at every level.”

Dr Vincent Carragher from TCD added, "Communities are the experts in sustainability actions and reach the SDGs where many others fail. Its key we foster their action and it’s equally important that sustainability and the SDGs are embedded in all teaching and subjects in school, college and university"

 The Winners of the 2019 Spark Change Awards: 

  • Belturbet Zero Waste Town won the Campaigner Award for their work to minimise waste and conserve natural resources by 50% over the next five years in Belturbet, Co. Cavan. They have initiated the provision of on-street segregated litter bins, rapid charge units for electrical vehicles, public water faucets, and other measures aimed at promoting sustainability. 
  • Community Wetlands Forum (Co Westmeath) won the Connector Award for supporting the protection, management and wise use of Ireland’s wetlands for sustainable communities, by providing a network for community wetland groups to share knowledge, ideas, research, and best practice.
  • Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin won the Storyteller Award for integrating the SDGs into their giving programme and grassroots projects like the Cabbage Garden and plastic snake project. 
  • Go Greener with Grangecon (Co. Wicklow) won the Mobilzer Award for the efforts to make their local Parents’ Association more environmentally sustainable by cutting plastic waste, and promoting sustainability in their local community.
  • Family Addiction Support Network (Co. Louth) won the Includer Award for helping families in the North East to achieve a greater understanding of addiction, improving their quality of life and helping them fulfil a positive role in the recovery of their loved one thereby promoting healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages. 
  • Galway Cheshire House won the Creative Award for their Cheshire House Band project which helps people with physical and neurological conditions opportunities to develop their musical talents and to perform where others get to enjoy the fruits of their hard work and talents.

The winners were chosen from a group of 64 community and voluntary projects which took part in the Spark Change programme. Participants received support, guidance and mentorship to get their projects off the ground. In return, they provided valuable data on how the SDGs are being advanced at the grassroots. This information will contribute to important research into the link between the SDGs and community and voluntary activity. The finding of this research will be published later this year. 

The project also created a library of case studies of successful projects that can be replicated in other communities. These case studies are available at www.sparkchange.ie/success-stories 

This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Browse photos taken on the night