Mitchell Toomey: “Youth power can lead the way towards the SDGs and the ambitions of countries all over the world”

Source: African Newspage/January 10, 2018

Mitchell Toomey is the global director of the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General administered by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), mandated to support the UN system-wide and the Member States on advocacy and public engagement in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

How important are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Africa, in terms of achieving sustainable development in the region?

I think the Sustainable Development Goals are everyone’s responsibility and Africa deserves to achieve the SDGs just like other regions deserve to do so; we had the MDGs and countries like Nigeria were an incredible success in rallying people around some specific goals.

Moreover, the SDGs represent a much more ambitious agenda; they are not just about people’s survival but actually about ensuring people thrive. So, Nigeria is an obvious leader in Africa and with such a large youth population and potential we want to make sure the SDGs work here so that Nigeria can lead other countries in Africa.

We are already 2 years into the implementation of the SDGs, how has Africa fared in terms of achieving the goals?

Well, I think every country is different, every country has their own development plans and one thing we have learnt is that you can’t just bring something new and expect everyone to enforce it immediately; already there is the Africa Agenda 2063, which is a very important agenda that came before the SDGs. So, we have to be humble enough to understand that people already have their own plans.

Two years on, we are very happy to see how governments have taken them very seriously; they have set up departments and commissions to make sure there is some accountability in the implementation of the SDGs. Many countries have come to New York to talk about their action plans and what they want to do. However, two years on we can say the goals are still in their very early days.

The next few years will really determine how much progress we will see in terms of implementation of the goals. So, in 2019 the heads of state of all countries will gather again in New York to review the progress we have achieved in 4 years – it will be an incredibly important period. Therefore, we are confident that by then many countries would have achieved some of the progress necessary for the success of the goals.

Two key sectors of the world’s population i.e women and youth are very vital to the success of global development frameworks like the SDGs. How do you think given women and youth the opportunity to key into the implementation of the Global Goals will aid the successful realization of the goals?

Well, one reason the youth are such a focus of the goals is that the youth themselves helped designed the goals; when we were deciding what the goals would be we challenged young people from around the world to help us decide what the goals would be and they responded in amazing ways: by telling us what was happening in their communities and hence what the goals should be.

As such, most of the goals are youth-centered which means the youth can relate to them; we make sure that the icons are very friendly and easy to understand so that even children can understand these goals.

The reason is we are in a period of tremendous change in the world and young people are the future; the ability to access information, find networks of people, and learn new things using digital tools are what matters. It is a much different world than it used to be and young people are the ones who understand it best so we need to follow their lead in making these goals a reality.

And women have always played a very critical role in society even though sometimes such a role is marginalized outside of the traditional economies but we believe by giving everyone in the society the opportunity to participate we will achieve explosive growth which will lead to development in all countries.

Agenda 2030 is a very ambitious development framework that hopes to change the face of the world particularly here in Africa, around gender, education, governance, and public health. Where do you hope to see Africa by the year 2030 in terms of achieving these goals?

It is hard to generalize for Africa as different countries are at different starting points; different countries are progressing in different ways. We have to be very honest that different countries will progress in different ways.

Imagine how much the world has changed in the last 15 years, imagine all the things we never dreamed we could do like standing here and having this conversation with you and getting it out on the internet for everyone to see, we just would not even have thought it would be possible. So, I think if anything the goals aren’t ambitious enough to match the ambitions of young people around the world.

This article is culled from African Newspage – a digital newspaper for development reporting. View the original piece on their website.

MY World 2030 Survey launched in Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network member countries

Rising up to the challenge of leaving no one’s voice behind, the network of volunteers Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) has officially launched the MY World 2030 UN Global Survey on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) online across all 36 CSAYN countries globally.

As a post-launch, some CSAYN countries have launched the survey offline in Central Africa (Yaoundé, Cameroon), East Africa (Zanzibar, Tanzania) and Europe (Bonn, Germany) for now while waiting on other regions to join efforts.

Based in Cameroon, CSAYN links volunteers with a strong interest in climate-smart agriculture and environment around the world. Climate-smart agriculture can contribute not only to achieve SDG #2, focused on ending hunger, but also relates to ending poverty (SDG #1), sustainable management of water (SDG #6), sustainable economic growth (SDG #8) and action to combat climate change (SDG #13).

In Yaoundé, the offline survey was launched by CSAYN in the International Relations Institute of Cameroon. Attended by well over 300 students of diverse disciplines of international relations, the event was followed by discussions centered on how data collected from the survey can influence policy decisions in the United Nations, as well as resolve key challenges in Africa.

“Watching how participants took the survey with so much excitement, passion and a strong conviction that their votes could make sustainable development a reality has encouraged our work towards being ambassadors for the goals in every local community”, says CSAYN country coordinator Nche Tala Aghanwi.

Although many still continue unaware of the SDGs in Cameroon, particularly in rural communities, discussions made clear how important the goals are for people and the extent to which they cut across their daily experiences.

The MY World Survey has also started to make its way towards local rulers. “One of the most inspired persons I encountered was a traditional ruler who explained to me that this survey has served as an evaluation tool of his rule and the level of amelioration or deterioration of major social services in his village since he became the chief”, says Aghanwi.

In Tanzania, CSAYN has engaged a community of 170 smallholders in Zanzibar in the offline survey, motivated by the interest of rural youth and women in climate-smart agriculture. Members of the Tanzania CSAYN team have also discussed with Zanzibar local farmers how to improve the production of cassava by intercropping it with sweet potatoes or yams in order to increase food security, contributing towards achieving zero hunger by 2030.

In Bonn, Germany, the offline survey was launched in the margin of the Global Landscape Forum. A cross-section of 50 delegates took part in the survey and committed to become SDGs Advocates within their communities, institutions, organizations and countries.

The results of the survey collected by CSAYN will help feed into the UN’s and governments’ monitoring of progress on the SDGs, raising awareness of important issues and giving a “people’s perspective” from the ground, in real-time.

Take the MY World 2030 survey here and raise your voice too about what SDGs are most important to you!

Lesotho’s MY World campaign launched by youth volunteers

MYWorld Launch Lesotho
Dr. Tesfaye Shiferaw, UNICEF Representative in Lesotho takes the MY World 2015 Global Survey on Friday, October 24. Photo: Mark S. Cogan / UNDP Lesotho

MASERU–As the United Nations in Lesotho celebrated the 69th birthday of the UN with national and international partners last Friday, (October 24) it also formally introduced the Basotho people to MY World 2015, the United Nations Global Survey with the help of the United Nations Volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations like the Rise Up Youth Organization.

“We will work to pass the survey on to other youth, which means getting into villages and into schools,” said Ramootsi Majalle, Director of the Rise Up Youth Organization.

Ramootsi said he hopes to enable as many Basotho as possible to have their say, including those with visual disabilities by translating MY World into braille.

Lesotho, a small landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa, is beset by a number of persistent development challenges. It has the second highest HIV burden in the world—second only to its close neighbour Swaziland.  Half of the country lives below the national poverty line.

The United Nations seeks the views of the Kingdom of Lesotho on the world they would like see post 2015. Unemployment is rampant, particularly among youth, who make up almost half of the population.

“Engaging youth is critical to reaching a sizable portion of the Basotho people,” said Ms. Karla Robin Hershey, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Lesotho.

“We want to make sure that their voices are heard as we transition into the next set of sustainable development goals.”

UN Day activities led by volunteer involving organizations yielded almost 150 votes on the afternoon.

Several national volunteer groups helped collect MY World votes, including the Rise Up Youth Organisation, and the Campaign for Education Forum. In addition, MY World was supported by the National Volunteering Corps, a government volunteering initiative supported by UNV and UNDP.

“MY World Survey is a great opportunity for Basotho to have their say in determining the post-2015 agenda,” said John Villiers, a UN Volunteer from Ireland.

“The turnout was outstanding and we look forward to working with our national partners to spread MY World into other districts across Lesotho.”

Contact Information:

Mark S. Cogan, UNDP Communications and Reporting Specialist, mark.cogan@one.un.org, +266 Tel: (+266) 22 313 790 ext. 377

Lesotho UN Day
Volunteers in Lesotho carry out the MY World 2015 Global Survey on UN Day. Photo: Mark S. Cogan / UNDP Lesotho

 

Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia

CUPPADL, Liberia

Blog by: Prince Kreplah National Executive Director of CUPPADL (www.cuppadl.ushahidi.com), +231886533015

Tuesday May 13, 2014: MY World’s Global Week of Action took place from from Monday, May 5th till Sunday May 11th, 2014. During this week, the United Nations teamed up with youth groups, the private sector, and NGO partners all over the world to launch MY World to gather 500,000 peoples’ opinions about the world they want after 2015. The MY World survey asks citizens everywhere about the issues that make the most difference to their lives.

In Liberia, the Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy (CUPPADL) led the initiative to collect votes in six poverty stricken communities in Monterrado County, Liberia. These communities included West Point, Clara Town, New Kru Town, Slipway, Doe Community etc. During the peak collection of votes from these communities, we mobilized the participation of over 400 citizens. The population voted for the six issues they believe needed to be prioritize in national and global development agendas in order to improve their lives and make Liberia a better place to live in.

We chose chose the communities previously mentioned because they have large populations with extreme poverty and poor access to social services despite the fact that they are so close to an urbanized capital. There are 40,000 inhabitants in the smallest community and 80,000 in the largest community.

The top priorities for the 400 voters were: “Better jobs opportunities”, “A good education”, “Better health care”, “Access to clean water and sanitation”, “Political freedoms”, “Better transport and roads”, “An honest and responsive government”, “Access to family planning” and “Reliable energy at home”. I believe the findings of the survey are not only relevant to global post-2015 development agenda, but are also relevant for Liberia in their national development planning.

The data will be useful to global leaders and will aid national development planning by painting an accurate global picture of the top six issues that impact peoples’ lives the most. The MY World survey is an unique opportunity to influence the global development agenda and CUPPADL is glad that Liberians have been heard through their votes.

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