“Young People in Partnership: SDGs in Action” – an update from Ireland

By Carmel Irandoust, World Vision Ireland

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs)? How do they relate to you? To Ireland? To the World? Why have them? Questions you may have asked yourselves but never thought of voicing or just never thought of asking because you didn’t even know they existed! Whatever the case may be… welcome! These are some of the questions we tried to answer when World Vision Ireland gave its very first workshop for the SDG Module taking place in the midst of SDG WEEK at University College Dublin.

Between 35 and 40 students attended the SDGs workshop, some very aware of what the global goals were and some not at all… so we needed to approach the workshop in a creative, informative and inspiring way as well as prac-ti-cal! We tried to keep it simple, straightforward and effective.

The workshop was threefold:

1/ We began the workshop with a short fun multiple-choice quiz, to engage participants and to test their knowledge on the SDGs. We then gave a presentation on Agenda 2030. This involved looking first at the intergovernmental negotiations and processes out of which Agenda 2030 merged (while keeping it light!). We used videos and examples to look at the 17 Goals. We then looked at Agenda 2030 itself, the five P’s for Sustainable Development, along with the Principles behind the Agenda. Real life examples and a fantastic video was used to break-down what this all actually means for people around the world in their everyday lives. Finally, we focused in on Ireland, looking at the SDG Index report and Ireland’s achievement to date. This session ended with information on the Make Europe Sustainable for All Project, and information on events and upcoming plans – which all participants were very keen to hear about!

2/The plan for the workshop was to inform, engage and inspire. We had just informed them. Next, we wanted to engage them in the goals themselves through an activity. Participants were split into groups and each given an envelope containing 5 targets, from across all Goals. The task was to match targets to their correct goals. Some were easy and straight-forward, but other targets, that cross-cut several goals involved more debate and deliberation. By the end, we were all a lot more familiar with the goals and targets!

Next, we needed to inspire!

3/ Time was then dedicated into looking at the relevance of Agenda 2030 as a roadmap for all peoples and most importantly a roadmap for our own lives. What is that WE can do? We looked at the power of young people themselves and their ability to be active agents of change in their respective societies. We inspired ourselves with the example of young people in some of the most challenged areas such as Syria and South Sudan (WV Programmes), who have been striving to implement the global goals in their lives even if they don’t call it that way… particularly with a focus on SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Institutions and the UNSC Resolution 2250 (Youth, Peace and Security Agenda).

We chose this goal because we wanted to inspire our young people and illustrate that even if one may think that this goal can only be achieved “outside of Ireland” much can be done here actually. The example of the young people of Galway we have been working with this past year was used and their interest in focusing on “supporting refugees” as a theme for the year and how they actively tried building relationships between host communities and refugees themselves. Pictures, stories were used. Finally, we ended up with a passage from the President of Ireland about the SDGs and we asked three questions for people to explore in small groups. And we gave a list of three or four concrete ways of how one could become an SDG advocate in his/her own life.

A few concepts came out from this workshop:

  • Universal participation and true partnership are required for this Agenda 2030 to succeed. By universal we mean EVERYBODY: children, young people, elderly, businesses, etc…

  • Young people are at the forefront of this agenda and we need them to take ownership of it and drive it forward. Partnership is key for bringing these goals to life. We need to partner up with young people!

  • These are not only goals but means, tools, which will empower a population to take ownership of its moral, educational, social, economic, intellectual and environmental development and build peaceful and sustainable societies.

  • “We are all developing countries in this international framework.” Irish President Michael D Higgins

  • Ireland must continue to play a pivotal role about the SDGs just like it did at the international level. We have a greater responsibility to bring them to life.

  • The SDGs are a newer version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we need to do justice to them and bring it back as well as the dignity and humanity of the citizens of the world.

Here are some of the comments from students who participated in the workshop:

“I really enjoyed the lecture… It’s important we make this accessible for the common person and this lecture would.” “Really enjoyed the interactive approach of relation the SDGs to our personal lives. If there are some evidence of governments implementing real policies to work towards the SDGs and show concrete progress.” “It inspired me to actively work towards achieving the SDGs.” “It inspired me to do more.” “Very engaging, very interesting, inspirational and educational.” “I thought it was very informational and I liked that students could voice their opinions.” “Really excellent presentation. Especially getting us to examine how we can become SDG advocates in our individual lives. Mix of two speakers and short films combined with group reflections worked well. Well done!”

World Vision Ireland is a child-focussed overseas aid agency. Active in Ireland since 1983 and part of World Vision International, it is the largest privately funded NGO in the world. World Vision provides short and long-term assistance to 100 million people worldwide and has over 40,000 staff members working in 100 countries. For six decades, World Vision has been engaging people to work towards eliminating global poverty and its causes and most importantly engaging people to serve and to attend the needs of the children of the world. We believe every child has the right to a safe environment, access to clean water and food, healthcare and education to build a brighter future. Committed to the most vulnerable, World Vision work with people of all cultures, faiths, ages and genders to achieve transformation. They do this through three main pillars: Relief and Development, policy advocacy and change, and partnerships with a variety of actors.

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