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Agents of Change SDGs Spotlight: Jofri Issac

Lisa Amerongen

Lisa Amerongen

Director of Communications

“I want to help communities make sustainable choices.”

Jofri Issac believes in a world in which every person understands that their choices have an impact on the planet.

To make such a world a reality, he is developing a project to help communities learn about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and apply that knowledge in their daily lives. His strategy: making the knowledge simple and accessible.

A recent survey showed that, globally, the concept of the SDGs is not well known yet. The study interviewed more than 26,000 people from 174 countries and showed that 50.3% of them did not know the SDGs. On average, people are aware of the problems described in them, but are not familiar with the SDGs concept and framework.

“If I go to the UN website, the explanation of the SDGs can be generic and full of difficult words. What we are trying to create is a way for communities to understand why SDGs are important and need to be implemented,” Jofri says. “We’re trying to create smaller and simpler steps for them.”

Although in its initial stage, the project draws from Jofri’s five years of field experience in rural communities in India, where he worked as a researcher before moving to Canada. This life-changing job gave him the opportunity to meet different communities and dive deep into how they were relating to environmental issues. “Climate change has impacted people in very small but steady ways.”

Jofri holds a Masters degree in Environmental Science and has also started working on a waste segregation tool to help people separate waste properly and reduce cross contamination.

In order to develop his ideas into a viable social enterprise, Jofri joined the Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals program at CSI between March and April 2020. As a part of the Eastern Canada cohort, he went through an intensive journey to practice a number of business development tools and drive change based on the SDGs.

“This course has been like a cabinet or a shelf for me. I had a lot of thoughts and didn’t know where to place them, but the course came as a frame where I can say ‘this goes here, this goes there.’ It gave structure to my thoughts and how to prioritize things.”

The peer-to-peer learning is also a highlight of the program for Jofri. Through the course of eight weeks, participants meet virtually and are encouraged to learn with and from each other. “After each session, people would share links, references, things happening in many places. These are not part of the curriculum, but it holds value, especially for people like me, a newcomer in this country.”

Another highlight of the program for him are the guest entrepreneurs. Erika Reyes, Beth Szurpicki, and Agata Rudd, from Wisebox, and Luke Anderson, from StopGap Foundation, were some of the professionals invited to give participants a clearer understanding of the challenges of starting a social enterprise.

Jofri is now working on ways to bring his ideas to life. After COVID-19, starting a business has become an especially challenging effort. With many environmental events canceled in 2020, he’s had to change his strategy and press pause on some plans.

His commitment to the SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 13 (Climate Action) remains strong, though. In times of uncertainty, Jofri’s bottom-up strategy may be just the approach we need to bring viable solutions for our future.

Learn more about the Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals program.

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