400 Gather in Accra for African Youth SDGs Summit
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Evans-Klock, has told the youth in Africa to see the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a promise to them, a reason they must hold their leaders accountable to their promise to make the 17 SDGs a reality by 2030.
She added that the SDGs were complicated, attainable, and doable, and that required young people in Africa to become strong advocates to achieve them.
“I hope that many of you, many young people everywhere, are finding opportunities to advocate and help achieve the SDGs to promote human rights through the activities of civil society organisations, youth groups, communities of faith, jobs in the private sector and actions in political parties,” she stated.
Your engagement critical
Addressing the opening ceremony of the maiden African Youth SDGs summit in Accra yesterday, Ms Evans-Klock said, “Your engagement is critical now in implementing that vision and turning it into a reality.”
The two-day event is being attended by about 400 youth from 14 African countries to explore ways through which they can come together and leverage their collective power to engage and monitor African governments in the implementation of the various goals of the SDGs.
The summit is being run on the theme, “Youth as drivers of sustainable development.”
Ms Evans-Klock, who is also the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Ghana, said the SDGs Agenda 2030, like the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, sought to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development, peace and security for the continent.
She explained that the SDGs were the people’s agenda, a result of years of grassroots consultations across the globe, and were not written by UN employees or a handful of academic experts behind closed doors.
On the contrary, she said the process started with an extensive bottom-up consultation process which received inputs from seven million people, 70 percent of whom were youth under the age of 30, who participated in consultations and fora around the world.
“What came out of all this global consultation among governments and with civil society is the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. It is a political commitment and it is a roadmap for ending extreme poverty in all its forms, for overcoming uneven progress across regions and within countries and for leaving no one behind.
Touching on the principles of the SDGs, Ms Evans-Klock said the first principle of the development goals was inclusion, but in many African countries while poverty was decreasing, inequality was soaring, a situation that portrayed that not everyone was benefiting from growth.
She added that Agenda 2030 also made the rule of law, access to justice, human rights and combating corruption central principles.
She, therefore, expressed the hope that respect for cultural, religious and traditional beliefs would not be used to deny individuals their basic human rights.
Leverage collective power
The Executive Director of the African Monitor in South Africa, Ms Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, challenged African youth to leverage their collective and individual power to exert influence on African leaders to expedite actions in the implementation of the SDGs.
She reminded the youth that it was the primary responsibility of governments to implement the SDGs since their governments controlled and distributed national resources.
“You must be mindful that it is your civic responsibility to hold your leaders accountable,” she urged, adding that the SDGs allowed an opportunity for young people to participate in decisions about budgets and other priorities their governments made and that they could monitor them as well.
Giving an overview of the summit, the Convener of the event, Mr Emmanuel Ametepey, said the successful implementation of the SDGs would make the world a better place, especially for young people.
“Hence, there is the need for all young people to join hands to make the development goals agenda a reality,” he said, and appealed to African leaders to acknowledge the potentials of the youth on the continent and work with them to achieve the SDGs.