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One Dish, One Wish: The Beginning of a Journey to Tackle Sustainability Effectively

Updated: May 6, 2023

Written by Bibiam M. Gonzalez Rodriguez, Global Schools Advocate from Iceland


In February 2023, over 100 people, along with students, took part in an event called "One Dish One Wish," with the goal to encourage children to become more aware of the most relevant topic to all humans which is food.

Food is of paramount importance not only for obvious reasons but because it can be linked to all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to Sustainability which is “about encouraging self-sustaining, resilience, realization abilities. It also has to do with appreciating and respecting what is already there” (Starling 2011, p.54).

For us, the Icelandic Móðurmál Association on Bilingualism, we have chosen food as the main topic because when people gather together to have a meal, we can always address important lessons.

Furthermore, as an Advocate of the Global School Program (GSP), I believe Iceland has an important role in fighting climate change and advocating for food security. As a country with one of the highest standards of living in the World and rated as one of the top 3 according to the World Happiness Report 2023, Iceland has the potential to take the lead and become an example to other countries in the promotion of sustainability. From the beginning of my mandate in September 2022, it has been very important to me to promote the SDGs. With this in mind, during the event, I highlighted to the public about the importance of reflecting on our eating habits and everything that surrounds this action at all levels especially that we live in a high-income country. The idea of the event was to have fun while learning what others have done in a very friendly and welcoming space.

One Dish, One Wish: The Event and its Outcomes

The purpose my colleagues and I had in mind was very concrete and specific. We wanted to allow people that were willing to participate despite the rich knowledge or great interest they had in the SDGs. We used the event as an opportunity to gain knowledge about the SDGs, as one issue about working with these goals is to acknowledge that not everyone has the same level of expertise about them.

Additionally, in attendance we had youth from different backgrounds, including Polish, Moroccan, Thai, Russian, Lithuanian, and Spanish. The activities conducted included the opportunity to create a poster about the SDGs, prepare a dish from their cultural background, and connect it to a dream in relation to reaching the agenda 2030.

During the event, there were multicultural performances, and at the end, we shared the food prepared by different groups and their families. As a GSP Advocate, I also had the opportunity to talk about the relevance of the 17 SDGs, and followed up with the teachers afterward to get feedback about the project and also come up with future project ideas.

It is important to acknowledge that the main idea of this project came directly from the World's Largest Great Lesson. I thought this simple activity of “What is on My Plate” could be developed into a bigger project. The idea of linking the recipe to a dream came up during a follow-up in a meeting with my colleagues. Long before the actual event day, we decided to use this opportunity to create a book, just as many of our Association have done in the past. The book would contain recipes from all the mother tongue groups in Móðurmál, which was an opportunity to reach more people in the learning of SDGs. The book will be ready in 2024, and we hope it will be launched at the Barnamenningarháttið (The children´s festival) that is held yearly in Iceland during the month of April.

As an Advocate for SDGs, I supported and guided the grouping of teachers and provided them with a different resources in multiple languages. The outcome was a variety of presentations with unique and appealing posters, which allowed participants to use their creativity and other skills while reflecting on the kind of education we would like to have here in our Icelandic schools.

Below are some of the important lessons that I learned from the event.

Children willingly contributed to the implementation of the project. They discussed and shared thoughts about environmental protection. They learned how to use products correctly and how to sort them out. Also, they learned what a huge hunger problem is” - statement from a Lithuanian teacher.

New things motivate interest and improvement. Encourage research, we are always looking forward to new events”, the Lithuanian group comments on continuing working together.

Furthermore, the groups that participated were encouraged to learn more about SDGs and seemed satisfied at the end of the event. It is Important to mention that this event had demonstrated the capacity and the ability people have when they decide to come up together and accomplish something as a whole. Concretely, the effort all people put into creating a dish was a great success. This event also demonstrated the strength and power the people have when they have a common goal in mind and are willing to put effort into an end result. They will accomplish it because they have the intention to do so. Their unity can make a group of people stronger and undefeated. All those were important lessons I would highlight the most. Uniqueness and multiculturality shined through the dishes as each group or small community had represented a microcosm of their bigger culture, most of them mentioned that they would like to implement similar events to get to know new cultures and customs.

By the same token, knowing about the SDGs and how they can be tackled throughout the topic of food would help more people in the future to learn about the SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and to find solutions to aim them effectively. Despite the lack of participants, this project demonstrated that food is one of the most important issues that can help all humanity to embrace all the biggest problems being faced today. I believe people should realize that when we think about food, we can aid in improving in all the three realms that should matter to all of us, ecological, social, and economic.

This Spanish omelet uses a minimum of plastic. Most of the ingredients used were local, and it tastes very good. This omelet contains protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Concluding Comments

The topic of food should instill in us the idea that the ones that have a lot should watch out so they do not have more than they need, and the ones that have less will have enough for themselves. The beauty about the 17 SDGs is thinking about one another ensuring that No one is left behind. That is what sustainability is all about “creating the conditions of survival, security, and wellbeing of all” (Sterling, 2011).

As an Advocate, I can tell you that we teach not only the SDGs but other important skills to achieve what Professor Jeffrey Sachs defines as Global citizenship education: We do that when we put on the shoes of the other, to overcome us versus them, to work in cooperation with others always searching for a common goal for all.”

The event taught me that Sustainability is all about our personal beliefs. My interest in tackling the SDGs should not cease. As humans, we sometimes forget that failure can be the beginning of an enriching and unforgettable experience. It is all about the values, skills, and knowledge that hold endless sustainable practices.

Weronika Sajdowska from the Polish group said, “children have enjoyed observing what they ate and the value that food has. Students had to work more by themselves”.