What do internationally decided goals of the United Nations (UN) have to do with everyday lives and experiences? Turns out a lot, actually. This is exactly what YUVA’s 3-day Youth Workshop on Sustainable Development, organised in association with Dilasa and Ugam, was all about. It gave the participants — the 50+ staff and youth partners of Terre Des Hommes — a unique opportunity to discuss the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and understand how they relate to our most private experiences. But first, a word on the SDGs.
The what and why of SDGs
For the uninitiated, the SDGs are a group of 17 goals outlined by the UN in 2015 and adopted by 193 countries as part of the 2030 Agenda. As the Millennial Development Goals came to an end, the UN formulated the SDGs to help ensure a better future for all, one that leaves no one behind. While each goal has its own specific targets, it is also linked to other goals in myriad ways. All stakeholders — from governments, and private organisations, to civil society bodies and individuals — have a critical role to play to ensure that these goals are achieved. Every country has to prepare their own targets as per the requirements of specific goals and trickle it down to the local level plans to ensure that goals are met.
Back to the workshop
The workshop grew from the premise that since the youth have a very important and active role to play in their own development, their conscientisation is critical to enable change. It aimed to show how problems faced in the community at the local level are connected to global goals, and can be addressed within the ambit of international targets.
At first, we helped the participants identify unique local problems being faced. We discussed these against the targets of global goals, identified existing policies and schemes, gaps in them, and spoke of possible interventions required. We also delved into monitoring frameworks and advocacy that can be taken up, discussing networks that need to be built to drive change.
Our role as facilitators
As facilitators, this was the first time we were discussing SDGs in such depth and trying to make it relatable and personal, dismantling notions of it being a technical domain. It was a challenging and enriching experience in equal parts, as we discovered the enthusiasm build up among the participants. Participants needed to relate the goals to their local problems and plan appropriate programs and advocacy required with responsible stakeholders. Therefore we addressed participants in the regional language. We also needed to guide discussions in such a way that the participants were forced to think of their own unique problems and possible interventions required, instead of looking for answers from us.
Mugha Sonawane of New Vision, Pune, was all praise for the discussions she had just been a part of. ‘These modules have really helped me understand how we can work step-by-step to drive change’, she said. Ajay Bansode, a youth from Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, attending the workshop, agreed with her. ‘I had no idea about MDGs and SDGs earlier, but now I know what they stand for and how they can help me fight for my rights. I hear many youth around me say what’s the need for education if we can’t get good jobs? Sessions like these reaffirm my faith in education, and help me understand what a big role it plays to build rights awareness and help work for a better tomorrow. After all, policy makers are not aware of on-ground realities like us. We can make them aware of how they can drive change’.
As the outcome of this workshop, each of the 12 partnering organisations need to take up two SDGs for monitoring, highlighting the targets, findings and interventions required. They will also be spreading the word about these SDGs, and what they entail. In the long run, a shadow report will be prepared by compiling information from these organisations and it will be submitted to the relevant authorities.
SDGs are a critical yardstick against which local concerns and issues can be highlighted, so that administrative authorities can take remedial steps and guide policy action accordingly. They play a very important role for civil society organisations, helping them work with individuals and the state to ensure that international goals are met.
Sachin Nachnekar and Pooja Yadav
Project Coordinators, YUVA