2017 Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit: On the road to implementation

Youth delegates at the first Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit

 Youth delegates at the first ever Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit unanimously agreed on the importance of forging partnerships, sharing of information and resources for the successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria

 

Youth delegates at the first Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit
Youth delegates at the first Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) otherwise known as the Global Goals or Agenda 2030 have been variously described as  ‘landmark’ and ‘ambitious’  framework for achieving global development. The aim of Agenda 2030 is among others, bringing to an end extreme poverty, promoting the wellbeing of all, protecting the environment, addressing climate change, as well as ensuring peace and security for all, by 2030.

Thus, in pursuance of Agenda 2030, the Nigerian Youth SDGs Network, a coalition of youth-led and youth-focused civic organizations working on localizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria, last August held the first ever Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit “to drive conversations on how young people can be at the forefront of implementing the 2030 Agenda” in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

The Summit was aimed at building a “common understanding of the transformational opportunities the SDGs present to Nigerian youth as well as fashion out innovative strategies for the successful realization of the goals in our country by working with key stakeholders across the government, private sector, academia, civil society and the media,” according to the summit’s communiqué signed by Joshua Alade, the summit’s convener.

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Themed: “On the Road to Implementation,” the Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit whose timing coincided with the 2017 United Nations International Youth Day on the theme: “Youth Building Peace” featured passionate discussions around the need to increase awareness about the SDGs down to rural communities, as well as mainstreaming and integrating Agenda 2030 in Nigeria’s development plans.

Other key outcomes of discussions at the summit were the need for more work to be done at the state and local government levels towards the implementation of the Global Goals; the need for Nigerian youth to engage in advocacy for the SDGs as well as demand accountability from governments at all levels regarding the implementation of Agenda 2030.

While delivering the opening remarks at the Summit, Ronald Kayanja, director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Lagos, acknowledged Nigeria’s significant contribution in the development of Agenda 2030, noting that the SDGs didn’t belong to the United Nations alone; instead, they were for everyone.

Kayanja as such encouraged the youth delegates to work towards increasing awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals by leading the advocacy for the Nigerian government to mainstream the SDGs in its development framework for the country.

Oluseun Onigbinde, co-founder of BudgIT, a Nigerian civic organization that uses technology to facilitate societal change gave the keynote address at the Summit on “How Young People Can Lead the Accountability Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria”. He urged the delegates to track government’s spending of funds meant for development.

The one-day Summit featured a panel discussion on “Youth Building Peace: Where We Are Now and What Next for the Future” and another on “Localizing the SDGs: The Challenges and Opportunities.”

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The panelists from were drawn from across youth-led Nigerian civic organizations including the likes of Precious Ajunwa of Galaxy4Peace, Olumide Idowu of Climate Wednesday, Ayodeji Osowobi of Stand To End Rape (STER), and Femi Taiwo of LEAP Africa, amongst others.

The summit’s youth delegates resolved to “work closely with the government through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs) to develop policies aimed at achieving Agenda 2030 by integrating the 17 goals into governmental policies; leveraging and improving upon existing local structures to implement the SDGs in Nigeria,” according to its communiqué.

The summit which was livestreamed on social media platforms like Facebook and Periscope reached around 10,000 young people from across Nigeria and around the world and had in attendance physically, about 350 delegates from across Nigeria, the United States of America, and Republic of Ghana.

It would be recalled that prior to the August summit, two pre-summit high-level forums were held in Lagos and Abuja in March and July, respectively, under the theme: ‘Inspiring Youth Engagement, Promoting Youth Participation’.  The forums featured discussions majorly around public health, education, climate action, gender, technology and creating descent jobs for the youth.

The pre-summit forums had in attendance representatives of leading Nigerian youth-led and youth-focused civic organizations which among others included ONE Nigeria, Connected Development (CODE), African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD); Climate Wednesday, Susty Vibes as well as Youthhub Africa.

Youth delegates at the first ever Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit unanimously agreed on the importance of building partnerships for the successful implementation of the SDGs hence the need for Nigerian youth organizations working around the SDGs to create synergy around sharing of information and resources partner one another for the successful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.

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