Case Study

Advancing The SDGs Through The Power Of Film



World Merit uses the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for raising the awareness, appetite and capacity of young people to take local actions that tackle the most pressing global issues of the 21st Century. 

Their roots are entrepreneurial, and they empower their members to deliver the changes they know are essential. The bespoke World Merit Impact App encourages them to grow connections and to showcase their activity in a way that shares best practice and inspires those around them to take positive civic actions framed by the SDGs. Actions are awarded ‘points’ through a peer review process which in turn earn opportunity and reward. 

World Merit Councils are their primary channel for developing and reaching out to global youth offline and online. Local, National and Global World Merit Councils cover almost every country and other important initiatives include Team2030, a global competition to encourage youth to take action and to form effective teams in doing so. 

World Merit partnered with the United Nations In 2015, formally adopting the United Nations seventeen Sustainable Development Goals at their core. Today, World Merit is acknowledged by the UN as its primary partner for engaging youth in the delivery of the SDGs and their links with the UN have enabled and reinforced critically important partnerships around the world.

As part of the annual World Merit Day celebrations, World Merit partnered with SIMA, the most renowned global curator in the social impact space, serving independent film, academic and global social justice industries around the world. 

In line with the SIMA conviction that sustainable social change is possible when local leadership drives the direction of local development, SIMA gave World Merit members access to SIMA Academy and the opportunity to lead via SIMA’s global SDG Challenge – providing them with a youth-led initiative to inspire, educate, launch solution based campaigns, raise awareness, mobilize support, and build community around global issues in their own local communities. 

For the challenge, their members were required to pick a SIMA Academy film and host a screening campaign to convene their community around the SDG they care most about, organize a panel discussion and campaign afterwards and log the event on the World Merit Impact App. The challenge was a great success with people from around the world watching films and collaborating to educate each other and inspire action towards the SDGs. 

The following stories are highlights from the challenge, showcasing the diversity and impact of the  SIMA and World Merit Partnership, which has continued to inspired World Merit to use the medium of film as a means to create waves of change for the SDGs. 

“Together with our partner SIMA Academy we have been able to reach thousands of people via documentaries, panel discussions and presentations about the issues that are close to our hearts, to make our problems visible, to give the solutions a stage to be seen and to inspire change.”

Carlo Steensma, Community Engagement Manager, World Merit

How it Worked

Participant Testimonials

“We were all inspired by the event and found ourselves planning different campaigns to begin straight away.”

— SDG 4: Robert Kawala, Event Organizer of A NEW PATH in Morogoro, Tanza

“It helped to increase awareness on impacts of nuclear energy, available renewable energy technologies, and how they can be accessed(…)The discussion provided an open platform for participants to share.”

— SDG 7: Isaac Sserwanga, Event Organizer of WOMEN OF FUKUSHIMA in Kampala, Uganda

“Audiovisual experiences connect a person with a subject better than anything else can.”

— SDG 5: Brenda Lacerda, Event Organizer of AT HOME, IN BED, AND ON THE STREETS in Barra Mansa, Brazil

“Most of the speakers were already working on a few environment related projects and this event was a platform to to allow youth to network with those people and actually get involved and start actively taking action.”

— SDG 6: Sama El Ford, Event Organizer of SILENT RIVER screening in Rabat, Morocco

“Film is an excellent tool for changing hearts and minds and creating awareness.”

— SDG 11: Novaira Khan, Event Organizer of WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE in Karachi, Pakistan

“After the screening and the informational discussion sessions, we found many people worried regarding problems that humankind and all others living on earth would face if Sustainable Development isn't done.”

— SDG 12: Sanjay Bhandari, Event Organizer of A THOUSAND SUNS in Nepal

"I am glad to have gained access the SIMA Academy broad based lessons and films on diverse topical issues affecting the human race. It has totally tuned my perspective to which my students approach various problems and better position them to help solve them in their own small way."

— SDG 1: Joseph Archibald Whadij, Educator/ Event Organizer of KAYAYO, New Valley School in Ghana

"After the screening, some of us decided to create an “Entrepreneurial Club” at the University to support young people in Burundi who want to begin a life as entrepreneurs and how they could collectively use social media to drive forward enterprises."

— SDG 9: JLeonidas Nzigamasabo, Event Organizer for KAYAYO, Student at Light University in Burundi

"The event helped us to internalize and act to end modern slavery and human trafficking. Many attendees were able to make links, observations and comparisons between the film and their own life, realizing their own power and responsibility to achieve that goal and change the world for the better."

— SDG 8: Maruf Hossain, Event Organizer of NOBODY DIES HERE, Student at East West University in Bangladesh

Impact Snapshots

26 community screening events

Produced by youth in 18 countries

Impacting 2,639 audience members

100% of the audience said the film event inspired them to take actions for the SDGs

100% of event organizers would like to replicate the event

35 new partnerships were formed between organizations to collaborate