I was invited by Drivers of Change to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of Youth and Education in Achieving it.

Here is the summary of the lecture.

It is very pertinent to understand what Sustainable Development is before looking at the goals. Sustainable Development is the development that helps the people living now to meet their needs without compromising the future generations to meet their own needs. E.g. the innovations we create today will enable the future generations to create more innovations and better innovations. If poverty is reduced in a family today, it brings about poverty not affecting the unborn children. While the Sustainable Development Goals are goals created to ensure that our needs are met, without compromising the future generations to meet their own needs. These goals are made up of 17 goals, which implies by 2030 poverty should be reduced as well as inequalities. The goals are sometime called the global goals or agenda 2030. The goals were formulated in September 2015 and was signed by 193 United Nations state which your head of State and mine were part of those who agreed on those goals. The goals are ambitious, a bit complex but then, it brings to awareness things we need to do to ensure sustainable development. It covers for the lapses of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which focuses only on Social Development. The MDGs involve developed countries providing aid to less developed countries. However, the SDGs was created in such a way that each countries should be able to sustain themselves. I think the SDGs is a blessing to many African countries as we are affected by many of these issues which boils down to having public funding targeted towards the SDGs as well as public – private partnership. And, the huge role civil society organizations have to play towards ensuring our planet becomes Sustainable.

You can read more about the goals www.un.org

The Role of Quality Education in achieving these goals

Goal 4 implies that we all should have access to quality education. One of the target of these goals is to ensure Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Which implies that for people to create this transformation, they have to be aware of these goals. Education brings to your awareness what you do not know, so you can make informed decisions to make your society better.

Education for Sustainable Development is education beyond the four walls of the classrooms. Our educational curriculum should reflect sustainable development. If I am learning physics, I should be thinking of how physics can be used to transform the society. If I am studying Geography, I should know how climate change affect my economy.  It also involves the educational sector serving as incubation centre to producing solutions to many of these problems. Apart from developing Literacy and Numeracy skills, we should be thinking of how students can develop Vocational Skills that drives the SDGs and provide solutions to many of our problems. It would boil down to our students developing life skills and being transilient and have the ability to change their community through the knowledge they have gotten.

How can we make this happen? By harnessing the potential in youths. Why? We have a huge stake in the Sustainable Development. We will be the one to live even after 10 years, our children and grandchildren will also live at that time. So, how do we create a better a world for them. The former Secretary General of United Nation Ban Ki Moon said “We are the first generation that has the real chance to end extreme poverty and the last chance to end climate change.” We are lucky because the SDGs came in our time and we are the custodian of the SDGs and we have to ensure that we drive it. By learning about it, spreading and teaching it. And creating initiatives that drive these goals through social entrepreneurship, Non Governmental Organizations, Businesses, holding key positions in Government.

So, we shouldn’t stop spreading the news and demanding accountability from the Government on developmental issues.

One key things is after the Post SDGs era some of us might get old and it would be hard for us to work in driving it. So the time is now guys.

Young people can drive the SDGs because;

We are innovative: we understand the dynamics in today’s world, we are 21st century kids and we can proffer solutions to many of these goals leveraging technology and design thinking.

We are great communicators: we can easily communicate through different means, social media is a powerful tool to drive change. We can mobilize groups and charge them towards the cause of sustainable development.

We have the Network: Young people have access to Network and information. We have the energy to move around and meet people. Young people should be at the forefront sealing deals to bring about sustainable development.

We are energetic: Biologically we are strong, we have the energy. We can do things and move things. We can travel miles to ensure sustainable development is achieved. It’s time to use those energy positively towards driving change.

In conclusion, all goals are important and interrelated, No goal is superior to the other. But I believe that education is key to bringing awareness to issues affecting our society. With Education poverty can be reduced. A reports recently released by World Bank shows that Education Mobility is key to achieving economic growth and ensuring positive intergenerational mobility. That’s transfer of wealth/education from one generation to another not transfer of poverty. But its quite apparent that some families that are poor since 1960, their children are still poor. They transfer poverty. Circumstances at birth affect them. Their inability to access quality education affect or limit their chance of living a fulfilling life. We still have a long way to go but with our little effort we can drive change. We have to define ourselves beyond the environment/government to ensure sustainable development.

Thank you for having me.

Facilitator: Hammed Kayode Alabi
SDGs Youth Champion.