Youth, key to achieving SDGs in Nigeria

“Youth have a crucial role to play in the achievement of the Global Goals, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are great thinkers, innovative and drivers of change.” These were the words of Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun, National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in his welcome address at the ‘Nigerian Youth SDGs Pre-Summit – Inspiring youth engagement, promoting youth participation’, held at the UN information Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Mr. Soremekun who represented the Director; Mr Ronald Kayanja, introduced and explained the relevance of the SDGs to youth. He enjoined the youth to pull together their creative energies and harness the opportunities offered by the SDGs as an extension of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He continued, “Youth must play an active role in the implementation and reporting of the SDGs. The goals are ambitious and all-encompassing giving room for everyone to contribute.”

The National Information Officer further stated that the SDGs as a development framework, addresses issues that are of interest to both the developed and developing countries; private and public sectors as well as the Civil society and the academia. ‘They are global goals that leave no one behind’, he added.

The pre-summit organized by NextGen Africa in collaboration with UNIC Lagos, had in attendance representatives of youth organisations from Lagos and neighbouring States. Speaking at the event, the Founder of NextGen Africa, Mr Joshua Alade explained that the purpose of the summit was to ensure that youths in Nigeria worked under one umbrella to achieve the global goals. The pre-summit included youth stakeholders in development and young people driven to attain the global goals in Nigeria.  Some of the stakeholders gave brief descriptions of their works and plans towards the achievement of the global goals.

The participants, who later broke into five discussion groups, discussed topics such as ‘How can we make economic and strategic case for the SDGs?’ ‘How can we break silos, catalyse and facilitate new forms of partnership and communities of practice – across sectors to deliver on the SDGs?’ ‘How can we raise the profile of the SDGs across the various sectors and the Nigerian public?’ ‘How can we develop a coordinated National approach to the SDGs?’ ‘How can we prioritize SDGs while ensuring nothing important is ignored and interlinkages between the goals are addressed?’ Representatives of the groups made presentations on the topics to the plenary.

The pre-summit rounded off with a mandate to the attendants to ensure adequate sensitization of the Nigerian youth on what the SDGs represent, using a unified, all-inclusive and participatory method to build a foundation for these goals towards a sustainable Nigeria.

Other organizing partners were United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) and SustyVibes.