Strengthening Youth Participation for Nigeria’s Achievement of the SDGs.

The Youth Sustainable Development Network (YSDN) Partners with the Lagos Business School Sustainability Center in organizing the Maiden Naija Youth Sustainability Forum which engaged more than 150 Nigerian youth virtually in addressing their roles towards achieving a shared prosperity in Nigeria.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SRSG) Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi being the keynote speaker shed light on how young Nigerians can begin to take bold steps towards the SDGs generally and specifically SDG 7.

Ms Damilola Ogunbiyi emphasized that SDG 7 unpins every facet of life and that the survival of the world depends on clean energy. She went on to state that Nigeria at the just concluded COP26 pledged to ensure that it reaches the global standard of clean energy by cutting back on carbon emissions and green-house gases and to reach net-zero by 2060. She further emphasized the fact that gas has a role to play in ensuring the country’s energy transition and achieving net-zero.

She concluded by speaking about the role of young people in ensuring change and achieving the sustainable future we desire. She admonished young people to instead of complaining and criticizing the government, should look at ways to infiltrate the government and effect change through proper research, innovation, technology as well as the implementation of well-thought out policies.

Ms Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, a United Nations Young Leader spoke about how young people are already solving problems and addressing indicators at the grassroots level however she also believes that they are not celebrated enough and the government are not engaging them enough to adopt the necessary data these young people have already accumulated and build on it.

At the close of the first panel session, the founder of the Next Gen. Global Frontier, Mr Damilola Oguntade spoke about how we should not fixate on the “SDGs” as they are more globally inclined and might not address the peculiarities of the African problems. He said rather our minds should be turned to the AU Development Agenda 2063.

At the commencement of the second panel session Mr Raphael Anagbe, a senior project officer at Enactus Nigeria, started off by speaking on the need for Nigerian youth to be more social development oriented. He said “we need people who are aware of societal problems, have done the necessary research and are also willing to do something about those problems”.

Still at the second session Ms Esther Agbenla, a representative of Junior Achievement Nigeria, emphasized how the education of young people on the SDGs needs to start at the primary school level as they are more susceptible to learning and imbibing the values and objectives at that level.

Finally, at the second and final panel session Ms Chiamaka Ibeh, a communications fellow at the American Business School, spoke about integrating the SDGs in our day-to-day life, and how if we have this mindset we would be achieving the goals in no time.

Commenting on the forum, the Co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of the Youth Sustainable Development Network, Mr Damilola Hamid Balogun said “more than ever before, across the globe, youth action and leadership in the SDGs is crucial to shaping the future that we want.

As an organization working actively with youth in instilling essential knowledge and leadership needed to achieve the SDGs in Nigeria and the globe at large, we felt it was important to organize the maiden Naija Youth Sustainability Forum specifically to bring on board sustainability practitioners in addressing the way forward on the SDGs and the role of young people as far as Nigeria is concerned”, he said.

Speaking at the closing event, Ms Durodoluwa Femi-Ajala, a co-founder and a board member at the Youth Sustainable Development Network said “the maiden Naija Youth Sustainability Forum shows that Nigerian youth are actively contributing towards a sustainable world, however, there is a need to double up actions so we can accelerate towards a shared prosperity faster than we can imagine”

In concluding the forum, the manager of the Lagos Business School Sustainability Center, Ms Oreva Atanya emphasized that young people and the world at large have a future and that they have a role to play to ensure that such a future comes into fruition.