Ordinary people transform the world!

Hurricane Island, EUA

Hello everyone, how are you doing?

Those of you who follow me on social media (Instagram and LinkedIn) saw that I was in the US, participating in the UPG Sustainability Leadership Program: an international training focused on citizen leadership for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Do you believe that the whole trip was funded by UPG?! As a feedback, I committed to develop a project and facilitate a mini-training session.

I’ll tell you how everything happened, making a cutout about:

  • What is United People Global (UPG)?
  • My application process;
  • The UPG Sustainability Leadership Program;

Do you believe that the whole trip was funded by UPG?! As a feedback, I committed to develop a project and facilitating a mini-training session.


UPG is a network created by Yemi Babington-Ashaye, a Nigerian who empowers people to be agents of transformation!!! Yemi has been an economist, business scientist, accountant, Teaching Fellow at Harvard, project manager, Global Shapers community chief, director and deputy chief of Africa at the World Economic Forum, Technical Advisor on Economic Growth at the Nigerian Ministry of Finance and now is presiding over United People Global!

In order to make the world a better place, UPG raises the voice of those who want to carry out impact projects, believing that ordinary people can implement Agenda 2030.

UPG was created to make the world a better place by empowering ordinary people in their individual projects. (Yemi Babington-Ashaye)

UPG exists to create opportunities to enable the construction of an impact reality through four pillars: raising awareness, strengthening belief, facilitating collaboration and fostering community.

AWARENESS: “It is possible! ”It shows different ways in which people can engage to make the world a better place. How? Helping people understand and exploit the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

BELIEVE: “Yes, we can!” Goes beyond consciousness and increases the belief that each person is capable of impacting. How? Developing and promoting initiatives that make the world a better place through training and capacity building.

COLLABORATION: “Let’s work together!” Develops and advocates initiatives in which people can work together, based on the SDGs.

COMMUNITY: “You’re not alone!” It promotes a sense of community among people from many countries who share a common sense of purpose: to make the world a better place.

These 4 pillars are reached through three paths:

  • Publications of articles and reports;
  • Facilitation of direct impact initiatives;
  • Event organization and interactions;

UPG is not just about individuals. UPG is about the world we want to build! (Yemi Babington-Ashaye)

Now I will tell you about my Application process =)


Before applying, I participated in a video call with Rodrigo Nunes and Ana Queiroz. Rodrigo is the program’s facilitator and Ana participated in the first edition. In this call, they told about the training and shared tips for writing an awesome application!

In the first phase, I had to answer the following questions:

  • Your bio: Share a little about yourself and your journey so far.
  • Why do you want to be a sustainability leader at UPG?
  • Which UPG pillar vibrates the strongest in your heart?
  • Use this pillar to give us an example of what you consider a positive action on sustainability.
  • Please provide a list of all the strengths you believe make you able to be an UPG sustainability leader.
  • Please choose ONE of the strengths above and tell us a moment when you used that power to achieve something.
  • Do you have experience volunteering? If so, tell us what you did / what you learned from the experience. If you have never volunteered, tell us why.
  • If you were to lead a sustainability project in your community, what would it be and why?
  • Share the challenges you expect to have to execute this project. And how would you overcome the challenges?
  • Each Sustainability Leader commits to organizing a mini-training session.
  • Tell us about what your mini training session might look like:
    Do you join any other networks?
  • Tell us how they can help you.
    OPTIONAL AND STRONGLY RECOMMENDED — Submit a 2-minute video to answer any of the questions in any section above or to tell us more about yourself.

My video:

The second phase was more direct — there were only 3 questions:

  • Can you tell us a little more about your initiative and / or mini training?
  • We would love to hear if you have any recommendations as to what should be included in the syllabus or what you would like to discuss during the Program.
  • Do you have any questions at the moment?

I confess that I had butterflies in the stomach, it was the moment of all or nothing! Before receiving confirmation, I had to apply to become an UPG CHAMPION.

Champions are Individuals or organizations that believe in the UPG mission and would like to make a COMMITMENT to help the network achieve its mission!

The questions to become an “UPG Champion” are very simple, but profound:

  • Why do you want to be an UPG champion?
  • What do you describe as your “super power”?
  • Your minibio: Share a little about yourself and your journey so far.

WONDERFUL Tip: Find a close friend to help you with the application! Brainstorming ideas, proposing proposals, and revising your writing is a differential when it comes to your approval! (Thank you Aninha ❤)


Oh guys, I confess that the idea of traveling alone to another country gave me a COLD in the belly! LOL

I arrived in the US 2 days before the program began and shared an airbnb with Alejandra, a Colombian girl who would also participate in the program and bumped into Boston with me. We went to Harvard, MIT, Boston Public Library, Walmart, and spent the afternoon visiting the City Center.

The next day we met the others participants and headed for the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, the place where we would receive the UPG Sustainability Leadership training.

Below, I prepared a general overview of the agenda on the island, bringing a clipping for the activities that most marked me:

22/09 — Sunday:

We had a delicious American breakfast: waffles, pancakes, cornflakes, muffins, yogurt, cookies, eggs, bacon and sausage!

In the afternoon we went to the airport because our bus to Rockland would depart from there. Arriving in Rockland, we took a boat to Hurricane Island. The boat was full already, and I volunteered to go on a smaller boat with Yemi, Lilla, and Bo.

I made a quickly video explaining what we would do during the week, the facilitations and how YOU, interested in UPG Sustainability Leadership Program, can engage to participate.

We arrived on the island, had a DELICIOUS dinner and went up to the project room.

It was a night of chat and inspiration! Yemi shared his trajectory, his worldview and how the crazy idea of creating United People Global borned.

Depth, learning and passion defined this moment!

I remember my heart burning as Yemi spoke, I closed my eyes and let those words vibrate inside my body. I was affected, welcomed and empowered by all the positive energy in the room!

At the end of the conversation, Yemi gave us the following advice:

  • Always be present;
  • Do all the exercises with excellence;
  • Offer your maximum;
  • Create a safe space;
  • Choose to be yourself;
  • Get motivated /Motivate;
  • Have a positive energy.

23/09 to 27/09 — Monday to Friday

We always started the day with a walk around the island. We climbed peaks, enjoyed the sea and had strong moments of connection with nature!

In the mornings, we received facilitations to develop our projects. The themes were:

  • Monday: What is your project?
  • Tuesday: Who do you need to involve?
  • Wednesday: What is your plan?
  • Thursday: Introducing your project and your plan.
  • Friday: What will you take home?

The afternoon was our time to explore the island: we got to know the solar panels, vegetable gardens, water treatment, composting toilets and the commercial activities (lobster and crab fishing) of the region.


Guys, pause for reflection:

This year I recognized myself as a BLACK BRAZILIAN WHO LIVES IN SLUM. Although I am black and live in the suburbs, I was not proud to present this reality. However, I went through a deep process of recognition, reflection and appreciation of Afro culture that made me know my ancestry and re-signify my existence. (Visit the texts: Sou Mulher, Preta e Periférica and Afrotransbordamento).

Since then, I wish to overflow !! PERIFASUTENTAVEL (SUSTAINABLE SUBURB) is not just a project I developed in UPG training, but it is part of my story and my affirmation process as a woman, black and peripheral!

PERIFASUSTENTAVEL was born to be a platform for sharing information and promoting debates on the Agenda 2030, with the São Paulo peripheries as the target audience.

If we want to be successful in implementing the Agenda 2030, we need to dialogue with the peripheries in a simple, inspiring and purposeful way!

My project is divide into three phases:

  • Instagram account for sharing Agenda 2030 content, specifically Reducing Inequalities (SDG 10) and Climate Action (SDG 13).
  • Workshops in schools: Agenda 2030 and the Brazilian youth — challenges and opportunities.
  • Ambassador training: I will enable people to promote the Agenda 2030! =D

After presenting my project, I received feedback from a group of over 30 businessman, activists, teachers, students, doctors, consultants, facilitators, entrepreneurs, chefs and artists from 16 nationalities!

And, on September 27, I officially became a sustainability leader for United People Global! 👏🏾

The UPG has become a union of PURPOSES! I learned that our life is not just about doing. Our life is about being and overflowing! ❤

Did you like the text? Hit 10 palm, comments, send in Whatsapp groups, share on Facebook and mark me in Instagram stories =)

Amanda Costa is a student of International Relations, undertakes Climathon Brasil and PerifaSustentavel, coordinates the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs WG) at Engajamundo, facilitates Plant-for-the-Planet workshops, participates in the Global Shapers Community, United People Global (UPG) and Youth Climate Leaders (YCL).

#ForbesUnder 30 | Jovem Embaixadora da ONU | Ecofeminista Antirracista