Wiki Loves SDGs: A Community of Global Goals Factivists

It goes without saying that 2020 has halted our plans. From key events such as the World Oceans Summit, Generation Equality as well as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) through to our overall progress towards the Global Goals. And while these important conferences and key moments can be postponed to 2021, our focus and efforts towards reaching the Global Goals for Sustainable Development cannot wait nor be postponed.

The world was already behind on achieving these Goals but now, COVID-19 threatens the progress we had made even more.

But in order to turn it around for both people and planet, we need everyone – from individuals to leaders to civil society organisations and businesses – to come together and take action towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

One plan that was not delayed was the Wiki Loves SDGs edit-a-thon which took place 19-26th September. This edit-a-thon brought together volunteers from around the world to work together and get accurate information about the Global Goals on Wikipedia. Before September, we learnt that only three of the 17 Global Goals had their own dedicated Wikipedia articles, and the existing articles needed much improvement. As we approached the fifth anniversary of the Goals, we decided to bring these volunteers together to help close this information gap.

During Global Goals Week in September 2020, more than a hundred volunteers from around the world came together to create new and improve existing Wikipedia articles about the Goals. With their help, we were able to democratise knowledge and educate more people about the Global Goals through the world’s most comprehensive encyclopaedia. Because of their contribution during this edit-a-thon – referred to as Wiki Loves SDGs – volunteers not only indirectly contributed to the Goals by sharing vital information, but also directly contributed to Goal 5 (Gender Equality) by helping to close the gender gap of Wikipedia editors who are predominantly male as almost half of volunteer editors identified themselves as female.

And thanks for these dedicated Global Goals Factivists, 517 Wikipedia pages were improved and over 3,300 edits were made in the space of seven days. This just shows how much we can achieve in a short period of time, even from a distance. Because of this Global effort, you can now easily learn more about each Goal and their progress – such as emission levels decreasing during COVID-19 under Goal 13 – on Wikipedia.

The contribution of these volunteers was so valuable that key figures such as Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina Mohammed and Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales came together to show their appreciation for these volunteers in the event’s closing ceremony.

But to quote the Deputy Secretary General, ‘the work is not done, and we are saddled with homework from this event’. It is our hope that the Wiki Loves SDGs edit-a-thon will become an annual tradition of Global Goals Week, with more volunteers joining to share even more vital facts.

Prior to this project, majority of the volunteers involved – as well as many of our Wiki Loves SDGs team members – had no experience to Wikipedia editing. Since then, many enjoyed the experience so much that they now view it as a starting point in their journey towards making the Goals a reality. You can also join these dedicated factivists by joining the Wikimedians for Sustainable Development group or by finding and joining a local group.

As Jimmy Wales stated in the Wiki Loves SDGs closing ceremony, ‘quality knowledge and information is at the heart of everything we need to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals’ and with your help, everyone, everywhere can get access to this information.