This module will cover the history of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their targets, why they were created, why it is important to work towards their achievement, and the role of youth in achieving them. You will also hear some examples of young people leading the change for sustainable development from across the world.
By the end of this module you will be able to identify areas of action related to the Sustainable Development Goals and understand in practice the way the goals and targets are interconnected with the others. You will have the background to start developing ideas on how to use your role as a young leader to create partnerships and sustainable solutions.
In 2015, the United Nations and its 193 member states adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development, a comprehensive plan to achieve sustainability, peace, and progress by 2030. As a roadmap and framework for achieving this agenda, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets were created. The SDGs can be divided into 5 thematic categories:
People: SDG 1 to SDG 6 Prosperity: SDG 7 to SDG 10 Planet: SDG 11 to SDG 15 Peace: SDG 16 Partnerships: SDG 17
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is necessary that everyone, regardless of their area of work, age, industry, or gender, takes action. Every single individual must contribute to make the planet a better place, and push to reduce social, economic, and environmental inequalities.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s world leaders. As a young person, becoming knowledgeable around the SDGs and equipped to lead projects that work towards their achievement is important to ensure a sustainable and healthy planet. The SDGs are all interconnected, which means that, if you work towards one of them, you are also positive impacting the others. This interconnectedness shows the importance of creating partnerships, as SDG 17 suggests, and working together to enhance our impact.
First, all 17 goals are interconnected, progress on one goal affects progress on the other goals. The SDGs recognize that is necessary and possible to live in a world which promotes human well-being for everyone in harmony with the natural world.
Secondly, all national governments around the world are responsible for delivering on the 17 SDGs, by working together with other groups, for example, young people, schools, local governments and the private sector.
Finally, progress should be defined by those are who are currently facing the impact of inequalities within our society - young people, people experiencing poverty, and people with disabilities to name a few. This principle is known as Leave No One Behind.
Youth for Our Planet is demanding urgent action around three specific goals: The Sustainable Development Goals were designed to tackle every challenge faced by humanity from an economic, social and environmental perspective. They follow the below principles:
Here are some examples of young people from across the world working to achieve and spread awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sidiki Sow, Mali: Today, 30% of the global crop production is used as animal feed. Sidiki developed a flour made from compost-fed larvae as a solution for Africa, where meat demand is predicted to rise alongside booming populations. “Insect flour contains double the protein, needs 200 times less water, and 10,000 times less space compared to soya flour”. Check his story here.
Anoka Primrose, Sri Lanka: Through her role as Asia-Pacific representative of the UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, Anoka engages with over 717 million young people in the Asia-Pacific region to enable climate action initiatives. Anoka’s Growin’ Money eco-social enterprise has helped over 5,000 vulnerable Sri Lankans after the devastating tsunami in 2004, which ravaged their homes and livelihoods, through equipping them with new farming techniques, eco-tourism strategies and digital skills. She also led the replantation of over 60,000 mangroves destroyed by the tsunami. Find out more about Anoka here and check her LinkedIn profile.
Boyan Slat, The Netherlands: Our seas are full of plastic and general waste washed in from coastal cities. When Boyan was 16, he created a mechanism to use the sea waves to collect the garbage polluting our oceans. Follow him on Instagram and keep up with his work.
Nicolás Gómez, Colombia: The clothing industry is the 2nd largest pollutant in the world. Nicolas and his team are in love with the ocean so they connected this challenge with their passion and created a brand that fabricates clothing from plastic waste found in the beaches of Colombia. Follow their brand 4planetcol on Instagram.
James Thuch Madhier, South Sudan: He reinvents the task of the bany-biith using solar-powered drip irrigation to provide a low-cost, efficient, and sustainable water supply not only during the rainy season, but all year round. He is combining the power of clean technology with traditional knowledge to invest in livelihoods in a grassroots, long-term, and sustainable way. Follow his work on Instagram.
Internationally: The international team of AIESEC, the largest youth-led organization, created a global initiative called Youth for Global Goals. The international team of AIESEC, the world’s biggest youth-led organization, created a global initiative that, through AIESEC’s network and partnerships, aimed to engage young people with the SDGs and encourage them to create their own projects for achieving the goals.
Echo Programme, India: WWF-India’s Echo Programme is an empowering action model to engage youth enrolled in colleges to design, develop and lead sustainable solutions against the most pressing environmental issues through innovation. For example, one group of young people from Delhi created a movement of change by educating women about switching to sustainable menstrual products to reduce their plastic footprint. The team organized workshops to reach youth across the city.
So far they have influenced 27,000 people through direct engagement from diverse walks of life i.e. adolescent girls, working professionals and homemakers. They also ensured to include men in all their workshops with a vision to expand the reach of their initiative. The team is also working to developing an e-commerce app, which will promote local goods manufactured by young and small entrepreneurs. Learn more about them here.
After watching the module’s video, reflect on the following questions:
CO-FOUNDER IMPACT HUB MEDELLÍN
Entrepreneur and social innovator, Federico has 10 years of experience working on sustainability and youth development. He founded Energía Vectorial, and is the co-founder of Impact Hub Medellín, where he currently leads Impacto2030, an Incubation and Acceleration program for businesses with Impact on SDG. Federico was selected by the United Nations Foundation as +SocialGood Connector. Federico is a Pokemon Master: he plays Pokemon Go and has finished all Pokemon games in Nintendo.