Written by Marikris de Guzman and Jose Mateo dela Cruz, MY World 2030 Advocates in the Philippines
IN A WORLD WHERE SELFIES AND THE NEED TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA ALL THE EVENTS THAT ARE HAPPENING REAL-TIME ARE THE NORMS, HOW DO WE MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS NOT ACTUALLY SEEN ONLINE? THE ADVOCACY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BOILS DOWN TO PEOPLE.
One former Philippine president said to her successor then – It’s the economy, student! But what is the economy if it does not serve the people. We believe that the same is true for the global goals – the centrality of the goals boils down to the development of the people’s lives and their quality of living.
A crucial component of the programme is the ASEAN MY World 2030 survey, which was launched by the 10 Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ASEAN and UNDP Administrator at the opening of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2017. Through an online form, anyone can answer the survey and make their voice heard by the policymakers. An alternative to answering the online form is through a printed survey form. In addition to promoting the survey, advocates also conduct activities in their locality to promote awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and feature advocates to demonstrate their local actions.
To bring forth localization, we need to focus not just on theories but on the lived experiences of people. This is where MYWorld becomes relevant – the survey and the Humans of MYWorld features are attempting to get a glimpse of the realities of people and try to measure if the aspirations of the new development agenda have borne significant changes for their lives or not.
As part of our strategy to increase awareness of SDGs in the grassroots level, we have conducted the survey in provincial areas using printed forms to give more space for participation to people who are not easily connected to the internet in the north and south of the Philippines. We did this through tapping local networks from our social capital and mobilizing them to support the conduct of the survey.
For us advocates, we wanted to go beyond promoting the global goals online. We hope to help in generating discussions and developing solutions within our communities. We believe that the people need to be enlightened regarding the SDGs than to merely contemplate about these and appreciate the Global Goals through social media sharing or even posting the goals that mean strongly for you. We knew that what we were doing has inherent limitations. The awareness survey is just the first step in promoting the implementation of the goals. People and institutions alike should be informed about the global goals first. With awareness, we hope that this can spark actions from institutions and communities to build collaboration and partnerships toward localizing and achieving the global goals at the grassroots level.
With this, the real power of MYWorld as a platform comes in – it is bringing back the discussion of these lofty and ideal goals to the people who demanded for sustainable development years ago. Features, campaign hypes, and communication strategies are being done to make people work for the goals but are we venerating the goals as an idea without understanding the real end game?
This year, we are privileged to be part of the ASEAN MY World 2030 Programme which aims to empower young changemakers in the ASEAN region to take upon a leadership role for both the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, led by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign, the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and the UN Volunteers Asia-Pacific. Selected youth advocates from the region will lead and carry out a series of advocacy activities in order to raise awareness about both agendas and increase citizen engagement to inspire concrete actions on the ground.
The challenge here is how to create a society recognizing individual aspirations but collectively working for these shared goals. This means going beyond the comfort of the online space and going to the communities and people where development is greatly aspired for. The battle to make the goals a reality is still ongoing. It will not just end in an online campaign rather it will be a long march from one community to another to educate, advocate, and work together for the global goals. It is a battle for uplifting the lives of more than 7 billion people and preparing this generation and the next to create a sustainable future- a planet that each person can say: MYWorld – a world that we want!
Co-founder of 2030 Youth Force Nepal
In April 2017, I saw an application announcement for a consultation program on Youth, Peace and Security. When I came to read the word ‘Peace’, my childhood memories came to mind. I remember the day when I was afraid of being kidnapped by a local insurgent group, just because I was the daughter of a retired army officer. We hardly ever got any sleep, as the sound of bomb blasts kept us awake. I missed school on many days because of regular strikes. Growing up in rural Nepal, I faced conflict up close during my childhood. Later on, the civil war stopped, but there was no ‘positive peace’. As Nepal is a multi-ethnic country, some of the marginalized communities are still protesting for their rights. This is a cause I care about, and which has led me to organize a media campaign to keep harmony and unity among different castes and ethnic groups. I always had the dream to contribute to peace building at the global level too. These were my thoughts when reading the application announcement site.
In December of 2015, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2250, on Youth, Peace and Security, the first resolution fully dedicated to the positive role young people can and do play in conflict prevention, the prevention of violent extremism and peacebuilding. UN SCR 2250 mandates the UN Secretary-General “to carry out a progress study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels”, and to present the results of the Study to Member States of the United Nations. The application announcement was for the regional consultation in Asia-Pacific, part of a series of consultations organized for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security.
I applied for the event on behalf of 2030 Youth Force, the Asia-Pacific youth network working on the Sustainable Development Goals, as I am one of the co-founders of the organization. I received the confirmation email with great happiness. It was my privilege and an honor to be a part of the Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on Youth, Peace and Security conducted in Bangkok on 16-17 May 2017. During the regional consultation, I met 42 young peacebuilders from across the Asia-Pacific region. We discussed recommendations regarding the strategic support young peace builders need. The final recommendations were shaped in five different categories: Support for Youth Organizations/initiatives, Mechanisms for the Implementation of UN SCR 2250, Political Inclusion, Education and Social Media.
Six months after the regional consultation, I received another invitation to attend the Validation Program on the Progress Study of Youth, Peace and Security 2250, which was going to take place in New York on 18-19 November. The event was jointly organized by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)/PBSO Secretariat for the Progress Study, with support from the Government of Canada. Again, I was extremely happy to receive the invitation, but also aware of my responsibility: this time, I was not only representing Nepal, I was representing young peacebuilders from the entire Asia-Pacific region. I had the huge responsibility to speak and amplify the voice of all the young peacebuilders.
I started to read all the reports from the different regional consultations, which were conducted in seven different regions: Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, East and Southern Africa, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean, and West Africa between December 2016 and September 2017. The recommendations from the other regions were similar to the ones from the Asia-Pacific, which made me feel like all the young peacebuilders around the world have the same challenges as us. They also want to feel secure for working in the peace sector. Though we represent our respective regions, which are very different from each other not only geographically but also culturally, all of us shared the same enthusiasm and similar challenges working on building peace.
Finally, the day came and 18 peacebuilders from all the seven regions gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters on 18 November at 9:45 am. We greeted each other with smiles and handshakes. As the program started, I was fascinated by the amazing discussions. Over the two-day program, we not only discussed the recommendations from the regional consultations; we also prioritized the most important recommendations, refined them, and tried to make them more specific and practical. We focused on some of the most important recommendations, such as ensuring political inclusion for young people, creating online and offline platforms for young peacebuilders to learn and share their experiences, resolving the violence of exclusion, ensuring economic inclusion for women and minorities, and collaborating with national and local government bodies to create an action plan for the implementation of UN SCR 2250.
We want our voice to be heard. Young people are not only sources of information to be consulted briefly. We are equal partners who can take the lead on strategic action. We look forward to raising awareness of and implementing the Youth, Peace and Security movement globally.
By Rejinel Valencia
I come from the Philippines, a society where youth are too old to be irresponsible yet too young to assume responsibilities. In our country, people from both the government and our own citizens, are still having a hard time grasping the true essence of genuine youth participation
By Kefan Yang
I come from a little town in southwest China, on the border between Laos and Myanmar. Growing up as part of a religious ethnic minority and as a sexual minority, I’ve understood the struggles facing marginalised youth. Thus, I want to make a difference in my community and turn it into an inclusive one.
By Danny Wong, Case for Space advocate
Born in one of the poorest villages in southern China, I realized that I had a crush on my best buddy when I was in junior high school. It was a bittersweet feeling of anxiety which made me swallow my secret deep down. After learning the word ‘gay’ and its dictionary definition, I felt a release, that at least I belong to some ‘tribe’