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How gamification can help us achieve the UN SDGs 

24 June 2019

Elodie Huiban, ICE Knowledge Strategy Manager, learns through an innovative game how enhanced collaboration can increase the impact of sustainability strategies.

How gamification can help us achieve the UN SDGs 
ICE staff playing the SDG game

Embedding the sustainable development goals into your operations and installing an effective collaborative process are two complicated concepts that require a systematic approach.

To make sense of this complexity, a set of innovative minds from Japan have combined the 17 UN SDGs and the three pillars of sustainability - environment, social and economical principles – into a highly collaborative environment to create the 2030 SDG Game.

An SDG Game

SDG game
SDG Game layout

During the game, participants work in groups to explore how the world can achieve the UN's sustainability goals by 2030 - or fail to do so.

How it works

Through a set of project cards, you work to achieve your personal life goals while keeping awareness of the world you live in.

By allocating money and time to achieve your goal, which may be to enjoy leisure, improve your wealth or achieve social justice, you must also balance development so that economic growth will promote life on land, create sustainable cities and communities, boost health, well-being, gender equality, and the optimal development of critical national infrastructure.

If most players in the game have created a world focused on generating wealth without thinking about the impact their projects will have on the environment and society, then this will show on the “World Condition Meter”.

World condition meter
World condition meter

Therefore, players who seek social justice, for instance, will struggle to achieve their goal on their own.

As shown below, to deliver a social project i.e. increasing the proportion of female legislators, the world conditions need to be equally sustained from economical, environmental and social perspectives.

Increase proportion of female legislation
Social project: Increasing the proportion of female legislators

This is captured on the World Condition Meter board in real time throughout the game.

At the end of the first part of the game, our social/society meter was at -1.

During the break, Paul Mansell, PhD researcher into SDGs and facilitator of the game, asked the participants to reflect on the subtle, yet key, part of everyone’s goal, which was to be able to evolve in a balanced, safe and healthy world environment.

Participants experienced a dramatic change in perspective and the second part of the game began.

The energy in the room was palpable, the heat went up rapidly, everyone energised to deliver a better world. It felt good to help others achieve their social goals, while others managed to trilaterally achieve an environmental project.

The most powerful impact of this game I found is the attitude change you experience, from a siloed mentality to a collaborative approach, in order to achieve not only your own objective, but also an optimal world condition.

The impact

Firstly, many realised that one’s own objective wasn’t as important as creating better world conditions for all and that if society was more aware of the impact it has on everyone else, as well as each other, we could achieve much greater outcomes.

Secondly, through collaboration and community engagement,we could have the power to accomplish sustainable world conditions, from achieving personal goals and delivering impactful projects to a well-balanced and environmentally-friendly world, benefiting from a striving economy.

The most fulfilling for me as the organiser was seeing the participants feel excited, having enjoyed collaborating with others and realising the impact projects have on the sustainability of our planet. It was a truly inspirational and an eye-opening moment!


Gamification is such a compelling way to educate your audience on a specific topic, and through competition and collaboration, the game will enable them to take actions which will motivate them.

It was suggested that a roadshow of gaming sessions could be developed within all ICE regions aimed at educating ICE members, staff and the wider industry, and, to above all, enhance collaboration.

Let us know what you think and share collaboration successes on the sustainability route map.

  • Elodie Huiban, Knowledge Strategy Manager, ICE