We remember the moment in 2015 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”
UN member states, policy makers, researchers, and the civil society realised that the SDGs were necessary to secure the social, economic, and environmental future of the world.
It is, therefore, not in doubt that the SDGs are a unifying rallying cry not only to solve problems affecting the world such as poverty, hunger, gender inequality, climate change and others by 2030.
Six years since the adoption of the SDGs, several countries worldwide have continued to localise them to fit their settings. The government of Uganda working with several non-governmental organisations are taking action against climate change by promoting 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. The youth make up the nearly 75 per cent of the world’s largest population. Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 78 per cent under the age of 30.
Therefore, young people are the present and shape the future. Today they might be our partners, tomorrow they will go on to become leaders.
SDGs must be introduced to youth at all levels of society such as schools and churches. In schools across the country, students and pupils must be empowered to undertake innovative projects that will create jobs, preserve the environment and promote food security.
The government must ensure youth access to sports, curb gender inequality, involve them in poverty alleviation and clean energy initiatives, among others.
Young people must be empowered to push their leaders at universities and local governments 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 such as poverty, hunger, and inequality are interconnected, and offer a basis for collaboration among communities, CSOs, government, companies, and philanthropists.
To recognise that indigenous communities and youth are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change impact or the gender implications of food security, it is imperative that government works to stop this trend.
Sustainable development is strongest when we harness our collective power. It requires to connect and shine a light on individuals, youth, women, local communities, policy makers, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and nonprofit organisations 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 us work together and bring the SDGs home.
Most importantly, we must take action against, restore what we have lost and defend what we are left with. Youth must be educated to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, successes, 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.
Brighton Aryampa, [email protected]