wesustain essay kenya sdgs sustainability africa youth

 Photo: Former Danish Ambassador to Kenya awards a finalist of the WESustain Essay Competition, Jane Mbae.   

This is one of the winning essays from our WESustain Essay Competition 2018. The prompt was:

How can the youth harness the opportunities in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of tackling the current social, economic and environmental challenges in Africa by 2030?


The role of the youth in making an inclusive society 

55% of the total population in Africa are the youth, this is according to the Blabla report of 2016.Today’s youth is the largest generation of young people in history and is also part of the first generation that can put an end to poverty and related issues. Hence, it’s very critical that the youth are intensively involved in the attainment of the seventeen sustainable development goals. These are paths where the needs of the present can be met without risking those of the future generations. The goals tackle such weighty issues such as inequality, peace, climate change, unemployment and sustainable consumption which require bold thinking on the current social, economic and environmental challenges in Africa by 2030.

In this essay I tackle the strengths of the youth who are the torchbearers and how they can harness opportunities in sustainable development goals. The youth- let’s call them the millennials or generation Y- are free thinkers and hence are able to transcend global and social boundaries that inhibit societies from development. The role of the youth then is to provide the atmosphere of societal inclusion. At this point in time, the world cannot afford to be divided in matters of reconcilable differences such as race, color, language, religion and it is this generation who is capable of being open minded enough to put a stop to needless disagreements.

Achievement of the goals means pushing youth employment and quality education. The youth should: First stop underestimating themselves, meaning that any young man or lady from an underdeveloped country or town can have a tremendous effect and touching ideas on his or her society that will change mindsets and lifestyles forever. The only condition is to believe in ourselves and try our best in applying our ideas, this can be in the form of offering education on importance of recycling waste or methods of controlling pollution in our communities.

Second, don’t wait for help, but start your project by yourself and others will follow: Positive and beneficial ideas always win in the end. Instead of young people sitting down and waiting things to be done, we have what it takes to stand out from the crowd and meet the goals. We need to stand out and make a difference.

The youth is the generation that will grow to substitute the power from the present generation, so that means a responsibility for young people to be committed to improvements of the future. Those improvements mean to learn from the past, in order of not replicating the negative actions and decisions taken and look for solutions of the issues that affect all kind of life on earth

Now we a living in time, where youth is not observing changes, but becomes change makers. Young people as advocates of future prosperity and development, via cooperation with specialized institutions, contributing their leadership skills and potential ensure continuously actions towards implementation of SDGs. Nowadays, there are a lot of organizations which are geared to achieve this goals such as MUNPlanet, United Ambassadors, AIESEC, UNESCO clubs not to forget the WESUTAIN platform. Through these the young leaders organize internationally significant events including conferences, summits, and forums create platforms for collecting brilliant ideas, opinions, implementing steps of business models, inspiring next generation already acting towards fulfilment of SDGs. It is important for the youth to join such forums so that they can know of latest technologies in use or even the new opportunities out there. As Edward Everett Hale said “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is a success. Who doesn’t like success? 

Increased popularity of social media platforms, the youth have opportunity to connect to others across the world and communicate to others across the world and communicate with others to help fulfilling a certain goal. For example, start of YouTube channels explaining effects of climate change, the youth can come up with a local magazine which tackles issues in each locality that are part of the SDGs, also starting a blog that fronts their views where the youth can even get income from it in the long run. Singing, painting, dancing, public speaking, poetry all these are talents that the youth should be encouraged to use in order to educate the world communities on importance of SDGs.

The youth of today are active, energetic, creative and enthusiastic part of modern society. It’s easier for them to communicate to share their opinions widely. They will only be able to harness opportunities in SDGs if they are united, after all more is always better. Getting a good education is also key because they will be able to write, read information, communicate with others across different countries and more so be able to express their ideas with confidence. I hence argue that an educated youth is an educated continent.

Youth should also learn to monitor that is understanding the methodologies and strategies used to achieve the goals as they monitor the process of their development. For they will be in charge.

Leadership where by there is empowering of young people knowledge of their rights and supporting Youth led organizations and networks will result in the development of their leadership skills as they can drive change in their communities and countries making the world a better place.

In the innovation field, youth have the capability to identify existing hurdles and break through barriers as they bring fresh perspectives, and often have direct knowledge of insights into issues that are not accessible to adults.

Communication creates global cycle of events and workshops which enable people of diverse backgrounds and cultures to work together inspiring an international networking framework resulting in more efficient, practical and innovative solutions as well as spreading awareness in a larger scale towards achieving a common goal.

I conclude by Marshall McLuhan quote, ‘There ae no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.’’ This means that in as much as we talk of youth, everyone has a role to play.