July 8, 2019 – It’s clear that young people are a growing presence in sustainable development leadership. This week, a group of BC youth are contributing to this movement at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. The BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) has organized this delegation for a second year, gathering 22 young people from British Columbia to connect the local to the global on the topic of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“By providing the opportunity to participate in the HLPF, the program is opening young people up to the highly bureaucratic and seemingly impenetrable world of high-level decision making on global issues. Such decisions will inevitably affect our generation and beyond and that is why youth representation and participation in the process is indispensable” says Melissa Lee, a delegate from Richmond. The youth delegates will be engaging with the Forum in several ways, including meeting with Canadian Official Delegates, civil society representatives, and other youth; attending presentations and training from leading experts on sustainable development issues; and presenting a side event on the topic of intergenerational equity.
The BCCIC training program leading up to the United Nations conference focussed on building each person’s capacity to communicate about sustainability and change making – this included opportunities for the youth to interact at community forums and schools in Sechelt, Squamish and Pemberton during a travelling retreat. “The BCCIC SDG program has allowed us to not only work in our own respective communities but more in a framework of interconnectivity and self-reflection” says Shayan de Luna-Bueno, a delegate from Victoria.
Reflective of the Sustainable Development Goals, the youth come from different experiences and backgrounds in health, education, policy, environmental protection, and social justice. They have been trained by BCCIC to holistically engage on the topic of sustainable development, from the personal to the systemic. “I’m inspired to think critically about youth’s role in transformational change to act on the SDGs” says, Veronika Gukova, one of the youth delegates.
Some of the youth delegates have also contributed to or supported BCCIC’s other Sustainable Development Goals work, including the most recent “Where Canada Stands” report, which examines Canada’s progress on the SDGs, and the “Best Practices in Agenda 2030 Implementation” policy brief series.
The youth have found the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals to be important for the world they want to shape. They are bringing their perspectives, knowledge and experience to the Forum to strengthen what they find important in achieving global sustainability – these include ideas about “leaving no one behind,” and valuing the voice and future of young people in sustainable development conversations.
The youth will be in New York as a team from July 12-18, and are available for interviews before, during, and after the High-Level Political Forum.
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