The United Nations adopted the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development on 25 September, 2015; the 2030 Agenda is a set of seventeen (17) interrelated goals with 169 targets between them. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to transformative action; an inclusive agenda designed to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all.
Every one of the 193 UN member states signed on to this agenda, and in order to meet the 17 goals, each nation must act decisively, and inclusively: governments, corporations, and individuals must be equally aligned. It is absolutely imperative that these targets are familiar to people the world over.
Sustainable global development is entirely achievable, but only through comprehensive, cross-sector efforts, beginning with education. Every nation must play their role, and so the people of each nation must hold their leaders accountable, because the status quo works against these targets, not for them, and a lot of invested and powerful interests will do everything within their power to see that nothing changes.
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That means everyone, from business leaders to academics to individuals (young and old) the world over, everyone must fight for their right to a sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future. They say: “You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are.”
A carefully conducted pilot survey recently revealed that despite the fact that the Global Goals have been in the public realm since their inception in 2015, most people in Ghana remain largely unaware of the 17 targets and the extraordinary impact they will have should we as a world finally manage to meet them.
Sadly, 82% of Ghana’s population remain largely unaware of these important targets, and are unconscious of their right to see them implemented. We, at World Merit Ghana (WMG) believe that Ghana needs a much more inclusive, grassroots approach toward tackling the resistance to the changes required to meet the Global Goals – if we really must achieve the targets.
With this in mind, I and my remarkable team came up with the Sustainable Development Awareness Campaign (SDAC), a project designed to empower, inform, and enlighten the youth cum change makers of Ghana. After all, they are the people who stand to benefit from the successful realization of these Global Goals, and they are the ones who will suffer the most, should we as a world fail to meet them.
Thus, in April, 2016, World Merit Ghana held its inaugural event at the University of Cape Coast which was graced by eminent Ghanaians including the former First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings. The event was attended by over 1200 students and it was so well received that the attendees – which among others included Presbyterian Senior High School, Kpone Presbyterian Primary School, Navrongo Senior High School, and University of Ghana – later took their campaign to the road in Cape Coast.
WMG has also organized a workshop on the SDGs which featured the policy analyst of the Hunger Project, and representative of the UN Women Working Group, Mary Kate Costello, as the keynote speaker. As is true of every great movement today, technology is key to this campaign’s success; it has given us the ability to share information with youth across Ghana and around the world through a variety of social media platforms, such as You Tube and Facebook.
The team continuously and actively engages as many individuals, classrooms, and communities as possible, inciting them to action, and encouraging them to assume responsibility for the future, to be the change we all desire to see. This year the team has focused its campaign on senior high schools, and building partnerships with the various stakeholders, soliciting the support needed to take the SDAC to the four corners of Ghana.
The year 2017 started on a good footing, after an insightful and interactive response from the students at Abrakrampa Senior High School, I and the team took this undeniably essential information to the young people of Mfantsipim, the alma mater of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. The team had the singular honour of introducing to the students the notable Ravi Karkara, Senior Strategic Partnership Advisor to UN Assistant Secretary General/Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, who addressed the students via Skype.
We have also collaborated with EQWIP HUB to organize the Intro to Eco-Entrepreneurship Workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals and hosted a chat with Roger Worme, a notable and enthusiastic change maker based in Brooklyn, New York. Roger reminded us all that people all over the planet are working together, prompting, probing, and pushing leaders everywhere to ensure that collectively we make the SDGs a reality.
The Sustainable Development Awareness Campaign’s work is far beyond presentations delivered to Ghana’s youth in classrooms and lecture halls – It is an urgent call to action. The youth and students are being encouraged and empowered, they are reminded of their agency, their instrumentality, and their ability to create the world they will inhabit. We create SDGs-focused clubs in schools, which engage with members of their communities. It’s the essence and the very definition of grassroots activism in action.
SDAC empowers youth with the information to have a dream and also with ideas, given them the power to create the innovations they desire to; thus they automatically become SDGs ambassadors who take up the challenges so essential to the growth and development of a livable world, a world currently balanced on the very precipice of unparalleled disaster, the sixth mass extinction event, something few, if any, of us would survive.
Despite the undeniable enormity of the challenges they face, these magnificent millennials give us all good reason to have hope, faith, and cheer for the future. Why? Well, because as Victor Hugo so eloquently said “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
The time has come. #SDGsTourGh
Joshua Kobla Adzakpa is a member of UN Interagency Network For Youth Dev & Gender Equality and Regional President/Founder- SDG Changemakers. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect African Newspage’s editorial policy.