An Agenda For Sustainable Development
In September 2015, History was made yet again with the launch of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The agenda is a set of 17 goals, 169 targets and 100 indicators that UN member states will be expected to use in setting their development agendas and policies for the next 15 years. Whether the common man understands what the sustainable development agenda means for them is another matter altogether. What is clear however is that this agenda is going to highly influence if not wholly shape the quality of our lives.
Fortunately, this agenda was not crafted behind closed doors of plush air conditioned offices in an exotic location. Instead, it was informed by over a million voices of world citizens representing people from all walks of life. Therefore, it is my agenda and it is your agenda.
For young men and women, the sustainable development agenda provides a much needed opportunity to improve their lives and effect change in their communities. Yet, many of them remain unaware of the goals and how they can be part of their implementation and monitoring.
Unlike the Millenium Development Goals which were constantly criticized for being too narrow, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more holistic, looking at root causes of problems and as a result, more ambitious. This is the very reason why it is important to rally every world citizen to play their part in the implementation and monitoring of the goals, lest we have a repeat of the millennium development goals’ shortcomings.
Whereas the SDGs were formally adopted by Heads of State, they are not legally binding. As such, each government will determine how it will implement the goals based on their respective country specific contexts. Therefore every country’s citizen will have to play a crucial role in the actual implementation of the SDGs and holding the duty holders accountable towards commitments made.
Opportunity For Youth Engagement
The sustainable development goals present yet another opportunity for young people to meaningfully participate in the transformation of their communities, countries and subsequently the world. 1.8billion of the world’s population (7billion) is below the age of 25. For some countries as is the case in Uganda, young people make up over 50% of the population. Governments, cannot afford to ignore the opportunities that such a young population presents.
There is an increasing recognition that young people are no longer passive recipients of development programmes. Young people are innovating solutions that are transforming health care systems, they are rallying support for social entrepreneurship projects that are providing decent jobs, they are holding leaders accountable to commitments and importantly, they are monitoring government programmes and ensuring that communities are transformed and lives are changed.
Young people can play a tremendous in the implementation and monitoring of the sustainable development goals as noted in some suggestions below:
- Sensitization: young people have the energy to mobilize others around the implementation of the goals. Furthermore, because of their keen interest and access to social media, they can create awareness of the sustainable development goals. All actions start with awareness.
- Advocacy: young people can identify opportunities to engage duty bearers to respond and act on emerging issues. This can be both at community, regional or national levels. Furthermore, young people can mobilize others towards a common agenda. Youth communities are presented with challenges on a daily basis, these include worrying unemployment levels, electoral reforms, youth representation, sexual reproductive health among others. Young people can choose an issue that is most relevant to them and advocate for sustainable responses from the duty bearers.
- Participate in decision making: young people can contribute to decision making processes and influence outcomes. Such processes include: national budgeting, policy formulation, petition formulation, constitution reform and sector planning.
- Monitoring development programmes: development programmes include those being implemented by government, civil society, youth clubs and faith based organizations among others. It is important that young people are aware of the different programmes running in their communities. Young people can then identify opportunities of participating in implementation and ensuring programmes are in line with the country’s development framework and the sustainable development agenda.
- Actively participating in the various sectors of the economy: it will take every fisherman, every teacher, every doctor, every banker and every other profession and trade you can think of to attain the sustainable development goals. We are going to have to worker harder and smarter. At this level, it will take individual commitment to excellence which will result into collective excellence.
In the words of Kofi Annan, ”you are never too young to lead”. Young people have the capacity to contribute to the transformation of our world. We need to create awareness of the availed opportunity and to encourage them to take their place and be the change that the world desperately needs.
By Namwiza Ritah