The aim of the inaugural summit which was held in commemoration of the International Youth Day was to get youths involved in NGOs to form a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Coalition. The communique for the summit can be found here.
The programme commenced at about 9:30 a.m with delegates networking. The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Director, Ronald Kayanga gave a welcome remark. According to him, SDGs are not UN Goals but Global goals; that everyone has an opportunity to work towards achieving the SDGs.
He described sustainable growth as prosperity today with the future in mind. He went on to state that the SDGs can be summarized using 5 Ps; People, Prosperity; Planet; Peace and Partnership. That the SDGs needs to be addressed with the same urgency that was given to eradicating Ebola in Nigeria. This can be achieved through the following:
- Increased awareness
- Integrate and mainstream Agenda2030;
- Engage more people and demand more accountability from government.
- Demand more accountability from government.
The keynote address was given by Oluseun Onigbinde the founder of BudgIT; a company that simplifies the Nigerian budget for easy understanding by the public. His presentation, was on “How Young People Can Lead the Accountability Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria?”. He gave the audience guidelines on how to monitor the progress of the implementation of the SDGs.
The audience was informed that Nigeria has one of the worst SDGs index scores (ranking 141 out of 149 countries as at July 2016). This is because Nigerians do not hold their leaders accountable to their promises. Successive leaders abandon uncompleted projects by their predecessors and set out to create new projects which might never be completed during their tenure in office. Also, there is little reporting on the progress made so far by Nigeria on achieving the SDGs.
Citizens, have the power to make their leaders accountable to their promises. He stated that this could be done by challenging them. Using the website Tracka.ng to track the progress of ongoing projects by the Government, and insist on the completion of projects which have been abandoned. We were told, we need to build strong institutions which would outlive leaders, as this was the only way to achieve the SDGs. We cannot keep on relying on individuals only as only Strong Institutions can outlive the progress made by Strong Individuals.
He concluded by stating that what makes a city is its population (people) and not the number of skyscrapers it has; a sustainable city is an all-inclusive city where no one is left out in the development process. Government should not evict citizens out of slums in a bid to create a mega city without providing alternative accommodation to the erstwhile slum dwellers.
The keynote address was followed by a presentation by the first panel. The Panel discussed: “Youth Building Peace: Where We Are Now and What Next For The Future”. The panel recognized that the media had a role to play in the peace building process, as a medium for sharing information and opinions. They cited the example of the Rwandan genocide, which was promoted by radio. The Mass media can also be used to preach the message of peace and should be used for this purpose. The use of the Media in promoting hate speech should be made unlawful. They warned against sentimentality when making contributions on social media.
The Second Panel discussed: “Localized SDGs Action”. They addressed the questions; what are the SDGs and how do they apply to me? They suggested ways of achieving the SDGs which include:
Addressing the SDGs is not just about You as an individual, but also about finding resources within your environment and making use of what is available to achieve the SDGs. We were told that achieving the SDGs requires a lot of finance but that you don’t have to wait to get finance before taking action. By creating awareness and advocacy, you can get the resources needed to complete a project which doesn’t necessarily have to be money. It could be in form of donated materials, used to complete a project. They also stressed that it is not possible to achieve all the SDGs yourself, therefore, it is best to focus on just one SDG. They also mentioned the role of data in tracking progress in achieving the SDGs. This is because some Organizations do not report on the progress they are making towards achieving the SDGs, and this makes it seem like little effort is being made to achieve the SDGs in Nigeria.
In conclusion, delegates were enjoined to form a coalition as the Government listens to coalitions and not individual NGOs. Forming a coalition also makes it easy for members to crowdfund their projects.
“The most important thing is to get the work done, not who gets the credit for it”
– Joshua Alalade, Convener Nigerian Youths SDGs Summit.