Frequently Asked


The SDG Action Zone will take place during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Week to provide space for deeper conversations, debates and showcases on core areas for accelerating action on the Sustainable Development Goals. It is intended to create a more transparent, open, and inclusive UNGA. This spirit will inform the creation of the programme which will be crowd-sourced through a call for suggested sessions from people and stakeholders around the world.

The SDG Action Zone will be held on 22-24 September 2020 and will be programmed virtually in EST timezone. All live content will be made available on demand after the sessions end.

The 2020 edition of the SDG Action Zone is going fully virtual! There will be no physical location for this year’s event but instead a virtual platform will be created where all content, exhibits, networking and connections elements of the SDG Action Zone will be featured. Registration information will be updated to the SDG Action Zone webpage closer to the event.

The SDG Action Zone will be professionally produced, with a premium on a digital user experience. We’re building a virtual space that will be engaging and interactive you may even forget you’re watching online programming.

If selected, your event must meet the following cumulative conditions:

  • Promote action and accountability for the SDGs
  • Provide deep, tangible, expert insights on what needs to happen to achieve the state of the world we need and want
  • Share tangible solutions, ideas, innovations and approaches that could turn the tide in this critical turning point
  • Set the vision for what we can achieve with this combination of adaptation, action and ambition
  • Include a call to action to mobilise specific counterparts, constituencies and citizens to ensure this vision is realised


Speakers and format:

  • Involve multiple sectors (i.e. civil society, business, academia, other key United Nations partners and governments). The more sectors included the higher consideration your proposal will be given.
  • Engage the audience in an innovative way that goes beyond just reporting on SDG progress to date.


Representation criteria

  • Minimum 50% non male speakers
  • Minimum 50% speakers from the Global South
  • Significant Youth* involvement (between the ages of 15-24)

*Persons between the ages of 15 – 24, as defined by the UN Secretariat

Please note: Strong preference will be given to applications that have a focus on Leave No One Behind and youth engagement in relation to the themes.

In order to deliver an impactful event schedule which features diverse viewpoints, perspectives, sectors and expertise, we are looking to build a speaker roster that may be drawn upon to build and strengthen sessions. Individuals from a range of backgrounds are invited to register their interest to be invited to speak. As the programme develops, speakers may be approached by event hosts and invited to join event programmes.


Proposals can be submitted on the website through the application form. Only complete proposals submitted through this platform will be considered.

The SDG Action Zone is open to applications from anyone, anywhere that has a tangible solution, expert insight, innovative or immersive experience or performance to share that will contribute to the objectives of the event. Applications are expected and encouraged from national and local governments, business, UN agencies, international organisations, civil society, entrepreneurs, media, activists, young leaders, academia, artists, creators and performers.

During the application process, you will be asked to share details about yourself/ your organisation, the type of engagement you are applying for, the content of the proposal, speaker information and some compelling communications copy and images that can be used to promote your session/ talk/ exhibit if your application is successful. For further information download the  criteria and application guidance before beginning your application online. Please ensure you read through this information before you begin for top tips on the user experience.

Once you create your user login, you can begin and save your application and return to it before submitting it. Once proposals are submitted however, they are considered final.  Please carefully review your application before submitting.

Session times will vary, depending on programme needs.

  • Breakout sessions: 55 minutes or shorter
  • Reimagine Talks: 15 minutes
  • Lightning Talks: 7 minutes
  • Creative content: 15 minutes or shorter

The SDG Action Zone is geared to bring the UN to the world and the world to the UN. All sessions are free to attend. For the first time ever, interested parties from across the globe can tune into and participate live in the conversations and networking happening on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. Anybody interested in finding out the latest approaches and solutions to global issues, and doing their part to activate change in their own lives or fields of work is welcome to join the discussions.

Yes – applicants are particularly encouraged to consider different engagement types if applying for more than one. Please note a separate application form will need to be completed for each, if submitting more than one proposal. Once you create your applicant log in, you will have the opportunity to create more than one application per user in the platform. Due to limited space in the programme however, only one event per event host at the most will be accepted.

The open application window will run until 3 August 2020 with successful applicants being notified by the first week in September

Yes! As part of the application process, one of the engagement options you can select is to join the speaker register. This register will then be drawn upon where needed to strengthen the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives in the hosted sessions, as well as the plenary sessions that will be programmed at the beginning and end of each day. Tell us a bit about yourself and your expertise through this application type, we want to find new faces and voices to join the discussions!

All applications should be submitted in English.

Although hosted fully virtual, the programme for the SDG Action Zone will be held in EST timezone. Content will be made on demand quickly.

While speakers do not need to be officially confirmed at the time of application, all speakers indicated in your application should be feasible to secure. If selected, you will be expected to secure either the proposed speaker or someone of comparable stature, specifically of comparable knowledge and dynamism, by 13 September. If any speakers are unconfirmed at that point, the SDG Action Zone can help ensure adherence by drawing speakers from the roster.

Applicants are discouraged from listing the name of an organization in place of a named speaker as in this event, applications may be deemed incomplete.

The SDG Action Zone will be hosted during business hours in the EST timezone. Through the application process you will be asked to identify which timeslots you would be able to host a session in, based on the timezone you operate out of. Please select as many as possible that would be feasible so that if your application is successful, the organising team can strive to programme your session in the window that best works for you and your speakers. Please note, there is not an option to select a preferred dates as the programme will be curated in line with thematic focus each day rather than event host availability.

Yes, we encourage the event hosts to invite diverse constituencies to attend their events.

All events, talks, performances, exhibits and productions will be hosted through an online event platform. There will be no physical location or technical hardware provided for speakers, session hosts or performers to transmit their interventions into the digital platform. Applicants will receive information on how to host breakout sessions, deliver talks, link up for performances and host their exhibits through this platform when the programme is confirmed. Please note however applicants will be required to:


  • Host their sessions autonomously through the platform. This will include sharing the technical information with their speakers and running the events through the platform in the same way they would in a physical location. Ensuring the chat is moderated and speakers are briefed and on-boarded. A production team will support with audio and visual testing and preparations but for all intents and purposes, breakout session hosts will require an in-team events manager to ensure a smooth link-up with the production team and delivery of the session
  • Session hosts are encouraged to factor participant engagement and stimulation in their proposals. Digital first solutions for online collaboration, information sharing and interactivity are encouraged to feature in applications alongside substantive content and expert speakers.
  • Some of the smaller segments such as standalone talks and performances may be pre-recorded. The applicant will be responsible for sharing this recording with the organising team.
  • All speakers, performers and session hosts will be required to ensure they have the appropriate set-up at their location to join the event virtually or record their intervention ahead of time if applicable.

All sessions of the SDG Action Zone will be promoted through the SDG Action Zone website, and various UN and partner communication streams. Hosts are also encouraged to cross-promote on their own platforms and invite diverse constituencies to attend their events. Further guidance will be provided upon acceptance of submissions.

In the event there are last minute changes to the agenda, the event hosts or the Action Zone can invite new speakers from the speaker roster.  In the event of a speaker cancellation, the criteria will still need to be met for the session to move forward.

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