By Brighton Aryampa
We remember the moment in 2015 that leaders from all 193 countries at the United Nations unanimously agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries as well as policymakers, researchers, activists, and civil society had come to realize that our combined social, economic, and environmental futures were intertwined under SDGs.
The SDGs provided a vision we all want to support and achieve, and the joy and solidarity in the room when we hit on the final resolution, it becomes palpable and inspiring.
It is not in doubt that the SDGs are becoming a unifying rallying cry and a common blueprint not only to solve Uganda’s all-round problems like poverty, hunger, gender inequality, climate change, dirty energy and others but also, it’s set to solve universal and interrelated problems by 2030. With six years past, it’s important to recognize that communities worldwide have continued to bring these Global Goals home, and make them a reality for real people in real neighborhoods.
Organizations in Uganda like AFIEGO, NAPE, Youth for Green Communities (YGC), EGI and others are taking climate action, promoting green economic alternatives such as off-grid clean energy, sustainable forestry, tourism and others identified under the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (UGGDS).
However, all this is not enough to achieve the global adopted goals without full involvement of young people. As noted by Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the resident coordinator United Nations Development Programme that there is no way we can achieve development without including young people which is beyond doubt true. The youth make up the nearly over 75% of the world’s largest population and life spanned to live longer than the people taking decisions now. The young people are important because they are the present and shape the future.
Today they might be our partners, tomorrow they will go on to become leaders. Considering their very energetic and enthusiastic spirits, ability to learn and adapt to the environment and willingness to learn and act on it, Africa and world at large requires young people participation to achieve the SDGs and help in taking the world towards progress.
Yes, achieving SDGs goals matter because we are more likely to mend what we measure. The SDGs offer clear benchmarks that enable people at all levels to work together toward a resilient future where no one is left behind. As a road map, they offer a foundation for partnerships to track progress at all levels as well as across countries. Through authentic commitments to the SDGs, concrete plans, actions, and goals take root. And nothing is impossible when rooted to inclusive participation and negotiations.
SDGs must be introduced to all levels. At schools across the country, students must be involved and empowered to undertake innovative research projects and collaboration with local governments for example to improve girls’ access to youth sports as a way to curb gender inequality at a civic level, end poverty, take climate change, be the 21st century leaders transition to clean energy and others. Young people must push their universities to examine their own equity and sustainability policies.
The SDGs serve as a common language and must bring us together to examine our shared struggles and discover solutions. They are really about understanding how complex issues like poverty, hunger, and inequality are interconnected, and offer a basis for collaboration among communities, CSOs, government, companies, philanthropies, and public officials to solve them.
To recognize that Indigenous communities and youth are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change or the gender implications of food security, as women and girls are often the first to go hungry when food is scarce., we must work together.
Sustainable development is strongest when we harness our collective power. It requires to connect and shine a light on individuals, youth, women, local communities, policymakers, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and nonprofit organizations across the country to drive progress toward the SDGs.
Local and youth action is vital in achieving no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, climate action and other goals. Let’s work together and bring the SDGs home.
Most importantly, take nature action, restore what we have lost, defend what we are left with. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, success, and others by planting a tree. Let every celebration contribute, restore and make nature a greener better place and fight climate change that is affecting all of us to align with SDG 13 that calls for climate action.
The writer is a lawyer and Chief Executive Officer, Youth for Green Communities (YGC)
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