By Leslie Brice
Today the Youth Boosting the Promotion and Implementation of the SDGs side event sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka along with their co-sponsors Soka Gakkai International, and Earth Charter International was held at the UN. This event was dedicated toward empowering the youth to take a greater role in the journey to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The overall message of the event was that SDGs are the blueprint for the future and the youth has a unique role to play in achieving the SDGs. According to Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Attorney-General’s Special Advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, “SDGs are the our blueprint…they are actually the plan for the future a plan like no other plan because we have never had a plan before. This is a plan to keep the people prosperous, safe and secure, healthy, educated, a plan to keep the planet in a state to look after us as well as many generations to come. This is a plan for equality, a plan for peaceful resolutions and a plan for partnerships.”
The youth’s role and participation in achieving the SDGs is heavily based upon the use of social media. The youth’s job is to bring the message of SDGs and its importance to the global audience. According to Ms. Saskia Schellekens, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, “we are faced with the largest population of young people…there is no way of achieving the 17 development goals without enhancing the skills of young people and empowering the youth.” The youth need to be empowered as forces of change. The approach to empowering the youth in the mission to achieve the SDGs is a “leave no one behind” approach, meaning that youth of all kinds needs to be included. Every initiative must include young people at risk and young people that have been marginalized including young people without parental care who are at the greatest risk of being left behind. As Ms. Sofia Garcia, Representative to the UN, SOS Children’s Villages, stated, “We need the diversity of young people with all experiences and backgrounds” in order to achieve these goals.
The new SDG app Mapting was unveiled at the event by Mr. Francesco of Earth Charter International and Mr. Nagai of Soka Gakkai International. Mapting is a free mobile app that can be used to discover all 17 of the sustainable development goals and promote sustainable actions through pictures. This app encourages all of its users to take pictures and post all actions that they either observed or actually performed that relates to any of the sustainable development goals. According to Mr. Nagai, “Mapting is based on the core belief that one individual or action can make a difference in the desire to engage people and inspire them to act.” It is hoped that this app will educate, engage, and inspire people of all ages across the world in working toward achieving the SDGs. The presenters divided the app into six features: Share, Browse, Interact, Discover, Unlock Bonuses, and Spread the Word.
The Share feature allows users to be able to take pictures and videos of a SDG based activity and place them on a world map for other users to Browse. The hope is that by sharing activities we can create synergies between participants. People will come together to Interact and to exchange ideas and tips, to ask questions and to collaborate in organizing their own event. The Discover feature allows users to learn about each of the SDGs and the Earth Charter. The Unlocking Bonuses feature incorporates a gaming aspect to the app in order to give users a sense of challenge and motivate them to share as many pictures or take as many actions as possible. The more actions users take or pictures users post allows them to enhance their personal profiles. Finally, the Spread the Word feature allows users to post their pictures and videos directly to Facebook in order to spread the message of the SDGs across a larger platform. Mapting is currently available for download for Android devices. It will be available for download on iOS devices in about two weeks.
The Youth Boosting the Promotion and Implementation of the SDGs side event stressed the universality and interconnectedness of the sustainable development agenda along with the importance of including youth participation in this agenda. There is a need to invest in young people to help them achieve their full potential. Young people must be valued for the potential that they offer and the value that they hold. This requires the need to offer young people a seat at the high platform table with regards to the development and achievement of the 2030 Agenda.