Change Is Possible If We Act: Here’s What I did

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A visionary event for localizing the SDGs

Introduction

It has been recognized that creating wider awareness for the sustainable development goals among community members and other stakeholders, and particularly young people will improve and sustain existing effort to localized and advance the global goals. It is said that when an you make an observation, you have an obligation. I agree. When I arrived the university of Nigeria in 2016, I discovered a profound chasm – the SDGs, which is a global roadmap for a better world, were an elusive concept to most young people within the community. I considered that a threat to the progress being made to the goals. This fueled in me a burning desire for change. I took on the responsibility of promoting the SDGs and bringing the knowledge of the goals to students and other stakeholders within the university community by organizing #Teach SDGs events.

But beyond creating awareness and talking about the global goals as a one beautiful idea, I wanted to join forces in localizing the goals; I wanted to be part of the solution to the challenges in my community.

Towards the end of my degree program, I was ready to make a transitioned from the school into the development industry. I had a sustained a vision – to continue to bridge this gap between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the untapped potential of Nigeria’s young people. I wanted to see more young people take action for the goals. Thus, I conceived an event that would bring the awareness and action to young people, while creating opportunity for networking and collaboration – it was an SDGs Hangout christened Inspire Project.

Dr. Daniel engaging with participants

In designing this event, I envisioned a platform that would not only loosen the intricacies of the SDGs but also illuminate the path for young people who are eager to contribute to community and global development. The allure of this gathering lay not only in the esteemed speakers who graced the occasion but also in the palpable enthusiasm of a youthful generation poised to make a difference. With over thirty (30) youths gathered, I see a people yearning for progress. The palpable energy in their faces, curious and impassioned; all gathered for a conversation around sustainable development. It was not just the commencement of a transformative journey for me. It was a celebration of youthful optimism, and the collective power to drive change.

 Key Message

The event featured seasoned development including Dr. Daniel Ugwu, Chika Mba and Somto Ugwu. Each goal unfolded like a chapter in a compelling story, as they weaved narratives of hope and responsibility. The participants, previously fairly with the SDGs, drew more insight about the interconnectedness of these global objectives and was able to find their local relevance.

From education and health to entrepreneurship and environmental conservation, the speakers illuminated opportunities for meaningful engagement. The hunger for participation and was visible. It was exciting to see a people now armed with vision and the knowledge that their aspirations aligned with a global agenda. And now, the passion and desire to contribute to their community, and become stewards of a sustainable future burned brightly in their eyes.

Today, I am proud to see that many of the young people who were part of the event have sustained the passion and are actively driving sustainable development in their respective communities and thematic areas of operation. And what’s more, the connection that ensued from the event has continued to yield meaningful collaborations in driving sustainable development.

Finally, I believe that the Inspire Project was helpful in illuminating the path for young people to stride confidently towards a future where the SDGs weren’t mere words on paper but lived realities shaping the destiny of their communities. In all of this, it is for me a feeling of inspiration and action. Since embracing this transition into development work, I have witnessed the transformation of not just a vision but an exciting awakening among young people in my state and community. I envision a more sustainable Nigeria, powered by the vigor and ingenuity of its youth. I still believe that young people are not problems to be solved but solutions to the world’s many challenges.

Objectives of the program

  • To advance awareness of the SDGs
  • To inspire youth community engagement
  • To promote collaboration and networking
  • To promote sense of personal responsibility

Key outcomes

Global goals, local impact: The event underscored the importance of understanding that the SDGs, while global in scope, have direct and meaningful relevance at the local level. Participants learned how to contextualize these goals within the unique challenges and opportunities of their communities.

Youth as change agents: An important takeaway was the recognition that youth possess immense potential to drive positive change. The event emphasized that young people are not just beneficiaries of sustainable development initiatives but active agents capable of spearheading and implementing impactful projects.

Interconnectedness of the SDGs: Participants gained a holistic understanding of how the 17 SDGs are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. The event highlighted the fact that addressing one goal can have positive cascading effects on others, emphasizing the need for integrated and collaborative approaches to sustainable development.

Community engagement and collaboration: The power of community engagement and collaboration emerged as a key lesson. Participants learned that sustainable development is a collective effort, requiring collaboration between diverse stakeholders. Building partnerships within the community enhances the impact and sustainability of initiatives.

Inspiration from success stories: Success stories shared by speakers served as powerful motivators. Participants gleaned insights from real-world examples, discovering that impactful change is achievable even in resource-constrained settings. These stories inspired a sense of possibility and resilience among the participants.

Personal responsibility and accountability: The event instilled a sense of personal responsibility and accountability among the participants. Participants recognized that contributing to the SDGs is not only a collective endeavor but also an individual commitment. Each participant left with a heightened sense of duty to make a positive impact in their sphere of influence.

Networking and mentorship: The importance of networking and mentorship emerged as valuable outcome. Participants learned that connecting with like-minded individuals and seeking guidance from experienced mentors can significantly amplify the impact of their initiatives. The event served as a platform for building a supportive community of changemakers.

Celebrating progress and learning from challenges: An essential lesson highlighted the importance of celebrating both small and significant progress while learning from challenges. Participants were encouraged to view setbacks as opportunities for growth and refinement, fostering a resilient and adaptive approach to sustainable development work.

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