The United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Pretoria, hosted a dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Friday, 28 September 2018, in celebration of Literacy Month. The aim was to raise awareness to UNIC library users about the significance of literacy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals adopted by member states of the United Nations in September 2015 following the Millennium Development Goals which ended during the same year. The SDGs cover a broad range of social, environmental, economic and development issues. These include poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice etc.
The dialogue placed critical emphasis on youth participation in attaining these goals, which in themselves seek to address many of the socio- economic issues that they face daily. Pertinent issues that arose from the dialogue dealt with the day to day actions on how youth can be actively involved in the pursuit of the goals. This then raised the question, “how do we localize these goals from an international level down to the national level where young people can take ownership of the SDGs without the feeling of it being imposed on us?” Asked Pinky Matlala, an educator from Tshwane Leadership foundation.
Mr. Abraham Bahati, a professional writer took to the podium to explain the challenges and gaps faced by the education system in South Africa, and how this relates to the SDGs particularly SDG 4 which emphasizes quality education, due to lack of foresight in introducing important subjects such as agricultural and environmental sciences in the primary school curriculum which are vital to the achieving the SDGs to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. He further explained how each goal is connected to each other and emphasized the need for people to work together in communities to implement ways to achieve the SDGs.
Austin Malesoena, the UNIC Pretoria library intern, echoed the message that there is no excuse in not becoming involved in the challenge to achieving sustainable development as the outcomes of not achieving sustainable development would have dire consequences for us all.
Participants were encouraged to take ownership of the SDGs and work towards achieving them by taking simple actions and supporting civil society groups in their communities through which they can push the agenda for sustainable development. The challenges of youth unemployment, poor health care services, poverty and the lack of quality education should be motivating factors that should drive youth to aspire to work hard toward achievement of SDGs.