Scores of high-profile young leaders across the globe who are bent on creating a better and more sustainable future for all have urged governments of all nations and world leaders to consider the rots created by the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity rather than a tragedy and ensure best advantage is taken care of them to accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the passionate young leaders, the crisis brought upon the world by the emergence of COVID-19 should not be a barrier to achieving targets, but rather a catalyst to spur and consolidate every effort in order to scale-up the previous gains towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
The zealous global young leaders made their voices known at a webinar to mark a side event of the 2020 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) held on Friday July 17, 2020 on the theme: “Building Back Better Through Partnership: The Youth and Civil Society Organizations”.
The HLPF is the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is marked annually and globally but due to COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event is being organized as a webinar (zoom) elsewhere in the world.
This webinar which connects various youth leaders across the globe via zoom was initiated by HIRED Consult with support of the Ghana Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Platform on SDGs, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), the Council of Local Experts (COLE Collective) and the Great Minds Empire Africa (GME).
The ripple effect of COVID-19 has brought untold pain and hardship across the globe. While infection numbers continue to rise with high rates of death, more companies are struggling to survive, terrifying swarms of locusts are destroying food sources and millions of more people are going to bed hungry every night across the globe since the deadly pandemic hit. It is no doubt, we are living through very challenging times. The unfortunate development, as a result has cast a profound effect on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
So where do we stand in terms of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs at the time of COVID-19 and how we can protect advances made thus so far on the SDGs? A question posed by the moderator to the panel of speakers and participants alike at the forum.
Reacting first to the above question, the Convenor of Civil Society Organizations Youth Sub-Platform on SDGs in Ghana, Mr. Joseph Kobla Wemakor observed the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately hit at a time the SDGs were gaining traction and a significant number of countries were making good progress, adding, “We are currently at a crossroad, but remaining still is suicidal therefore we must strive harder to move forward at all cost”.
In his response, the Continental President, Great Minds Empire, Tama Monday Yari noted the gains made so far in achieving the SDGs are not encouraging at all even before the pandemic hit. “When you look at the 17 goals, we’re still in a vicious cycle; still rounding in the same place”. “Let’s assume there’s no COVID-19, can we be where we are in the right up?” he quizzed.
Citing, the SDGs 14 and 15 as an example, he furthered, “you know, life below water, life on the land, so much need to be done”, adding, “we need more efforts to realize the goals”, and concluded, “at this stage we need to stop the blame game and not to put it on COVID-19”.
For her part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Founder, Sprout Up Youth and Women Initiative, Viola Nakimbugwe averred that the there’s a great stride of progress currently where the world stands now towards achieving the SDGs. Pointing towards some gains made in her view, she said: “for instance, the global population now living a better life, infant mortality rate at age 5 has declined” adding, “however, advancement across the most of the Global goals has been sluggish or even reversed”, she regretted.
Recounting some of the loses, Ms. Nakimbugwe revealed: “Today, 70 million people seek refuge, famine, extremism, climate events, over population, water scarcity, gender based violence and the rise in arm conflict and its extremism continue to define lives around the world”, adding, at this time of COVID-19, some of these things have actually worsened but there is hope of reversing the trend only if the world leaders exude enhanced political will and commitment”.
A participant who proffered an insightful suggestion, Dr. Gbujie Daniel Chidubem, the Founder of Team 54 Project in Nigeria, noted SDGs Ambassadors have a role to play in creating awareness about SDGs and their attainability and how SDGs contribute to business success. He also added: “we need to change our mindset and think outside the box”.
Other distinguished speakers who won the hearts and minds of participants at the forum with interesting perspectives shared on the various topics discussed focused on the SDGs include Keith Andere, Africa (ECA) Regional Caucus Coordinator, Portia Mabasa, Founder, VoiceItUp Africa Obed Rocky Dadzie, Founder, Voices On The Mount Youth Empowerment.
The 2020 HLPF side event provided great opportunities to the youth and civil societies to discuss themes and SDGs under review, identify new issues, listen to all voices, and help spread greater awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in general at all levels. It rallied discussants from various countries across the world including Uganda, India, Russia, Nigeria, Ghana and UK who provided wide range of perspectives on the topics under discussion.
It was moderated by the able Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of HIRED Consult, Mr John Aggrey who equally doubles as an indefatigable Social Intrapreneur.
HIRED Consult is a youth-led social enterprise with expertise in management and consultancy. The organization focuses on most critical needs and problems of the masses to create opportunities through strategy, operations, and digital delivery across board.
Some Side Events successfully organized and executed by HIRED in the past include the UN World Environment Day, UN World Oceans, World Refugees Day and UN75 Dialogue.
Joseph Kobla Wemakor is a multiple award-winning freelance journalist, a blogger and ardent online news editor. He also doubles as a human rights activist, a youth leader, a climate change proponent and a sustainable development goals advocate in Ghana.
He has over a decade of experience in journalism and strongly believes in using his platform to bring about change and give a voice to Ghanaian minorities.
Joseph is also the Head, Media and Communication at the PLO Lumumba Foundation, Ghana Chapter as well as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Greater Accra Regional Youth Network (GARYN).
In line with his passion as a human rights activist, Joseph set up the Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG). This is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) which seeks to promote, defend and bring an end to human rights abuse against women, girls, children and persons living with disability including the marginalized in the society both within and out of Ghana. He also leads HRRG in the capacity of Executive Director and currently working assiduously to impart knowledge on human rights to the Ghanaian populace.