About the festival

On 25 September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations agreed a global agenda, unprecedented in its scope and ambition. If successful, the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will represent a leap forward in the fight against poverty and inequality, as well as the struggle for environmental sustainability.

The goals were agreed after a global consultation between the UN, governments, civil society, youth groups, business, academia and millions of citizens. Taken together, they represent a holistic agenda, which can only succeed if policy areas often deemed to be in opposition can be reconciled. The Global Festival of Ideas will allow participants a unique opportunity to chart new thinking on how to overcome seemingly conflicting, and contradictory, objectives.

The Global Festival of Ideas – the world’s first playable policy conference

The Global Festival of Ideas is the first in a series of annual forums, hosted by the UN SDG Action Campaign and supported by the Federal Government of Germany. The Festival brings together leading thinkers, policy-makers and civil society, together with gaming experts and policy simulators, to deliver the world’s first playable policy conference.

Too often, policy-makers focus on one development objective, at the expense of others. But in the SDG era, a radically different approach must be found: we must be able to promote economic growth and prosperity with environmental sustainability; we must challenge inequality and exclusion in a rapidly globalising world; and we must find ways of protecting individuals and communities caught up in conflict or affected by mass migration; we must deliver effective health services, even though resources are limited.

By transforming participants from passive delegates to active players, the Festival will provoke new thinking on these global challenges, involving policy-makers, the private sector, investors and civil society. The interactive event will feature:

  • High level plenary sessions, presentations, discussion and debates to share critical ideas, showcase success and hear from keynote speakers.
  • Real time problem-solving through policy simulations and participatory games based on interactive technology, built by expert game designers.
  • Innovation hubs that showcase the work of wide variety of organisations.

Each of the three days will focus on a particular development challenge. These are:

  • Disruptors
    Violence, movement of people, and responses
  • Inequality
    Reducing inequalities, revisiting globalisation
  • Sustainability and Growth
    Water, food, energy and green growth

Each day will also draw on the latest research and data on economic, demographic, technological and political transitions.

The playable conference

A live simulation game will lie at the heart of the festival, engaging participants in the trade-offs at the heart of SDG implementation. It will foster practical collaboration, provide a safe space to trial ideas and offer an opportunity to reveal assumptions. Participants will be asked to work together to make decisions on critical areas of resource allocation, with the implications of these decisions (on progress towards the goals) transmitted to others through data, audio-visual installations and the festival plenaries. The game will interact with the conference sessions and be available for all delegates to play.