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General - April 6, 2017

The Highpoints of the Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit stakeholders’ forum

Youth participants at the stakeholders' forum
Youth participants at the stakeholders’ forum

The Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit high-level stakeholders’ forum themed: ‘Inspiring Youth Engagement, Promoting Youth Participation’ discussed young people’s role in the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which came into effect on 1 January 2016 are a landmark agenda developed by countries of the world for a better future. Among others, the aim of the goals is to bring to an end extreme poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, as well as address climate change by 2030.

Nigeria, like other countries of the world, is expected to take ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals and report on progress in achieving them. Young people played a key part in shaping 2030 Agenda’s priorities and so they will be indispensable in efforts to see to their achievement in the coming 14 years.

Thus, the Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit aims to build a common understanding of the transformational opportunities the SDGs presents to Nigerian youth as well as fashion out innovative strategies for the successful realization of the goals in the country; by working with key stakeholders across the government, private sector, academia, civil society and the media.

Hence, last week Wednesday, NextGen Africa Initiative, the organizers of the Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit – which is scheduled for August 2017 – hosted a high-level stakeholders’ forum on the forthcoming summit. The forum which was themed: ‘Inspiring Youth Engagement, Promoting Youth Participation’ was held at the United Nations Information Centre in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Since its inception in 2014, NextGen Africa Initiative has been working with government agencies, NGOs and private sector organizations on youth-focused education and community development projects in Nigeria towards achieving youth inclusion.

And discussions at the stakeholders’ forum which was attended by young people and stakeholders working in the implementation of the global goals in Nigeria centered on young people’s role in the implementation of the SDGs and global best practices in terms of innovative strategies for achieving successful youth engagement with the Global Goals.

Welcoming participants to the forum, Joshua Alade, founder of NextGen Africa Initiative said the Global Goals were key to Nigeria’s development as a nation within the next 14 years adding that it was vital that Nigerian youth who will be mainstream leaders by 2030 play an active role in ensuring that government was held accountable in the area of funding, making data available and ensuring the successful realization of the SDGs by 2030.

Speaking at the forum, National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre in Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun said the youth have a critical role to play in the fulfillment of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. “They (youth) are great thinkers and should be mainstreamed into the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Soremekun, who spoke on behalf of the director of UNIC Lagos, Ronald Kayanjar, explained the relevance of the Agenda 2030 to global development, explaining the processes leading to the creation of the SDGs after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.

“The SDGs address the needs of both developed countries and the developing countries. Each country and government therefore should prioritize the goals and work to implement them. Even in designing the individual goals of your organizations, make sure to align your goals with the SDGs, strive for the goals and meet the targets, and this will ensure your relevance,” Soremekun told the youth participants.

Also speaking at the forum, Olumide Idowu of Climate Wednesday, an organisation seeking to build a climate smart generation in Africa talked about his work around using the social media to make government aware of the hazards that manufacturing companies pose to the environment in Nigeria.

“A large bulk of achieving the SDGs lies in the hands of the federal government as there is little that individuals or civil society organizations can do. Also, the United Nations need to collaborate more with nonprofits and youth organisations,” Idowu said.

Youth participants brainstorming during the breakout sessions
Youth participants brainstorming during the breakout sessions

The stakeholders’ forum featured breakout sessions which deliberated on many topics relating to the Nigerian youth’s participation in the implementation of the SDGs.

Among others, there were sessions on how to make economic and strategic case for the SDGs; how youth can break silos, catalyze and facilitate new forms of partnership and communities of practice across sectors to deliver on the SDGs and how youth can raise the profile of the SDGs across the various sectors and the Nigerian public.

Other sessions were on developing a coordinated national approach to the SDGs; as well as how youth can prioritize the SDGs while ensuring nothing important was ignored and that the inter-linkages between the goals were addressed.

Attendees at the forum collectively agreed to ensure adequate sensitization of the Nigerian youth on what the Sustainable Development Goals represent, by using a unified, all-inclusive and participatory method to build a foundation for these goals towards Nigeria’s sustainable development.

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