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Youth and the Sustainable Development Goals
Posted By Ponce Ernest Samaniego, November 6, 2015

Over the past decade, there has been a growing recognition of the youth's participation in economic, social and political processes. Governments, international agencies, civil society and private sector organizations across the Asia-Pacific region have realized that young people are powerful agents of change who, if supported and empowered, can drive the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We must ensure that Asia’s young people benefit from and contribute to ensuring inclusive growth in the region by supporting them to achieve the global goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or global goals, are a new, universal set of targets and indicators laid out by and for United Nations member states to frame their political policies and agenda over the next 15 years. The SDGs will be a carry-over and expansion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are due to expire by the end of this year, 15 years after the member states agreed in 2000.

Asia and the Pacific and the SDGs

Asia and the Pacific led the world in achieving the MDGs, pushing the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day to fall from 53% (1990) to 12% by 2015. However, though some goals may have been met, millions of people are still in dire conditions in issues such as health, nutrition, and sanitation. The region also faces challenges of inclusiveness as uneven development persists both across countries and within them in terms of achievement against the MDGs. In general, East Asia has fared much better than South Asia while within countries, marginalization and discrimination on the basis of gender, class, ethnicity and location tend to persist.

The 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs are much more complex than the 8 goals and 21 targets of the MDGs. This brings upon challenges to Asia and the Pacific on efficiently implementing interventions with the appropriate approaches, technologies, resources and financing, and reliable information upon which upon which stakeholders will make informed decisions. Most importantly, efforts to achieve the SDGs will require the involvement of all stakeholders to do their part.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or global goals, are a new, universal set of targets and indicators laid out by and for United Nations member states to frame their political policies and agenda over the next 15 years. The SDGs will be a carry-over and expansion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are due to expire by the end of this year, 15 years after the member states agreed in 2000.

Civil Society Participation for the SDGs

Contrary to the approach with the MDGs, the SDGs will be driven not primarily by governments, but by evolving partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector. Highlighting this, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments to ensure enabling environments for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to operate in commemoration of the International Day for Democracy. Noting the evolving role of citizen participation, he emphasized: “The role of civil society has never been more important. Soon we will start to implement an inspiring new development agenda, agreed by all the world’s governments.” Post-2015, governments should ensure that CSOs are able to effectively contribute to achieving the SDGs, and meaningfully engage in their monitoring and review.

Role of Youth in Asia in Achieving SDGs

The Future We Want outcome document of Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development referred to young people as “custodians of the future” – highlighting youth as important stakeholders with critical roles to play in helping achieve the goal of a sustainable future for themselves and future generations. Over the past decade, there has been a growing recognition of the youth's participation in economic, social and political processes. Governments, international agencies, civil society and private sector organizations across the Asia-Pacific region have realized that young people are powerful agents of change who, if supported and empowered, can drive the achievement of the SDGs.

Young people are crucial civil society actors, and most of them live in developing countries. The current generation of young people will mature in the next 15 year period covered by the SDGs. They are the ones who will experience the impact of the success or failure of the SDGs. We must ensure that Asia’s young people benefit from and contribute to ensuring inclusive growth in the region by supporting them to achieve the global goals.

Reference
1 - Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld)
2 - http://blogs.adb.org/blog/5-things-civil-society-and-sdgs-can-do-each-other
3 - http://blogs.adb.org/blog/5-things-civil-society-and-sdgs-can-do-each-other

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