SDG World Tour promises to be mind-blowing adventure

SDG World Tour promises to be mind-blowing adventure

‘SDGs are super abstract for many people’

It’s an ambitious initiative, the SDG World Tour: A sustainable, two-year sailing voyage intended to spread the universal message of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To make 500 million young people aware of the seventeen goals, the crew will visit just as many ports. The Dutch initiative by Wavemakers and Changemakers, as they call themselves, promises to be a mind-blowing adventure. “It’s an enormous rollercoaster,” says Wavemaker Max Jilderda (26).

Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations and patron of the initiative: “The SDG World Tour is a unique way to raise awareness and to activate all layers of our global community in making the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals a reality.” Max Jilderda finds it ‘truly awesome’ that such an icon supports the Dutch initiative. “I was blown away when I heard it. The role of patron was made for him.”

‘A lot of young people today make their choices because of a sense of purpose. We want to do something good for the world’

Goosebump moments
Jilderda, who studied Political Science and International Relations at Amsterdam University College, is one of the seven young people at the helm during the SDG World Tour. “I joined when the idea was still a diamond in the rough, through an appeal on LinkedIn. Because it is about goals for the future, the initiators wanted the tour also to be organised by the next generation. And it’s true that a lot of young people today make their choices because of a sense of purpose. We want to do something good for the world, contribute to a sustainable future. It’s my first job and it’s been full of goosebump moments. I get to meet, besides a lot of special people, a real cross-section of society. Together, they form one huge source of inspiration.”

Voyage around the world with a mission
The idea for the SDG World Tour was prompted by a question from the shipping company council of the clipper ‘Stad Amsterdam’, the sailing vessel on which the young people will be travelling around the world. In 2009, the clipper made an eight month voyage around the world in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The voyage the British scientist made from 1831 to 1836 formed the basis for his evolution theory. The question was how the vessel could be used again for a voyage around the world with a mission. “According to Mitra van Raalten, director of SAIL Amsterdam, only one theme qualified: the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Jilderda. “And that’s how we came up with the SDG World Tour. We set to work with seven young people, the Wavemakers, to work out the idea into a concrete business plan. We are supported by senior professionals, the Changemakers.”

‘Greta and the team want the same thing: a sustainable and inclusive planet’

Greta Thunberg
According to Jilderda, the comparison with the sailing trip of Swedish Greta Thunberg and a group of environmental activists to the UN climate conference in South America is somewhat moot. “We want the same thing: a sustainable and inclusive planet. But our approach is different. As a climate activist, Greta is a source of inspiration. We opt for a supporting role in the transition to a sustainable world. Together with the people who join us on board, we will reflect on ideas to achieve the SDGs. The vessel will stay in each port for ten days. We will use that time to create awareness and enter into a dialogue. For SDGs are super abstract and too comprehensive for many people. We will be looking for themes that unify people. We will do so On Ship, On Shore and Online.”

Over a two-year period, the clipper ‘Stad Amsterdam’ and its 30-strong crew will travel from Amsterdam to Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, the US, Japan, China, Australia, Indonesia, Australia, India, South Africa, Colombia and Canada, to end at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. During the tour, the ship will serve as a sailing platform for knowledge exchange and dialogues between inspiring people with different backgrounds.

‘The idea is to also use the clipper as a test case for maritime innovations during the voyage’

Test case for innovations
The clipper will set out to sea from the port of Amsterdam on 16 August 2020. Before it leaves, the 76-metre three-master will be given a sustainable refit. It will be fitted with a new main engine and new generators. Better exhaust gas treatment should reduce fuel consumption and soot emissions. “The idea is to also use the clipper as a test case for maritime innovations during the voyage,” says Jilderda, who makes no secret of his enthusiasm for the tour. “I am grateful to be a part of this expedition. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.”

Inspiring session
During CWF2019, the Foundation SDG World Tour invites participants to come on board, as it were, for an inspiring session. The central question is: how can we reach the next generation of Changemakers and how can we enable them to achieve the SDGs? In short: How can the SDGs be made more mainstream? Yoël Schuller, one of the other Wavemakers, will head that session on wednesday 23 October in Eindhoven.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are seventeen global goals for sustainable development to end extreme poverty, inequality, climate change and loss of biodiversity on land and in the sea. There are goals related to health, education, clean drinking water and renewable energy, among others. The 193 member states of the United Nations adopted this development agenda for the period from 2015 to 2030.

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