By Naomi Yakawich
“SDG 2030! SDG 2030! SDG 2030!”
Hundreds of young people chanted together in a display of solidarity and commitment to harness their energy, skills and passion to fulfill the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the Global Service Forum in Manila, Philippines. An elite panel representing international businesses and NGO’s opened the forum, part of the 2017 Global Peace Convention.
Dr. Marco E. Roncarati, Social Affairs Officer for the United Nations ESCAP, opened the session describing three key points for youth to drive the 17 SDGs to completion: knowledge, experience, and action. Dr. Roncarati described the importance of knowledge as an “all-encompassing” component, summarizing humanity’s ancient traditions since the beginning of history. “Knowledge is valued but it has to be applicable to solving problems,” he said. He encouraged the audience of young people to tie wisdom and knowledge of the past to the relevance of the present time, utilizing technology to capture evidence. In order to make a lasting impact, stated Dr. Roncarati, “we have to understand what works.”
Pointing to the excitement in the room, Dr. Roncarti highlighted the energy of youth, fostered through the experience of service, as a key component to change. Ms. Diane Melley, Vice President of the Global Citizenship Initiative for IBM, echoed the high demand for collaborative action saying, “It really is, in each of our initiatives, about partnerships. The world is changing too fast, and those changes are too profound for any of us to manage alone.”
Another advocate for inter-organizational cooperation, Ambassador Young-mok Kim, former President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), invited the young audience to utilize their open-mindedness as a tool to expand their network to create a ripple effect of change. “The world is not ours,” said the Ambassador, nodding to the older leaders on the panel. “Youth understanding and commitment is more important than our generation. Young people, you do not have enmity. When we are young, we have open-mindedness. We can be friends with anyone. We are curious. It is up to you to make the world more open.”
Mr. Pramod Sharma, Founder and President of Yuvsatta, an NGO working to empower young people internationally for peace, uplifted yet another unique quality of youth: innately creative problem solvers capable of achieving peace as long as they are invigorated with a common vision and higher purpose. “If young people are not involved, these Development Goals will remain only as slogans,” said Mr. Sharma, “We need globally a network of young leaders who believe in themselves, who have no fears and who are out in the community promoting good.”
Before concluding the session, Mr. Naam Deo, CEO of the Sarvagya Foundation, directed the whole assembly in a couple minutes of meditation. The calm silence provided an exercise for change makers to focus on the present. Too often, busy minds perceive happiness and peace as a “thing of the future,” when instead, as advocates for global peace, leaders should practice clarity of the present to instigate speedy transformation.
Mr. David Caprara, Vice President of Global Peace Foundation Office of Strategic Partnerships applauded the application, mentioning figures like Gandhi and Mandela. “People of history that moved the world were people of meditation,” Mr. Caprara reflected. “They were people of great faith that dreamed a great dream.”
The Global Service Forum Opening was followed by five working sessions, including Public Private Partnership in Community Development; Engaging CSR and Employee Skill-Based Volunteering with Community-Based Development; Disaster Risk Reduction and Youth Capacity Building: Philippines and Rise Nepal Case Studies; Clean Water and Environmental Service Initiatives; and All Lights Villages and SDG Research Tutorial: Impact Evaluation Baseline Tools.
Two of the Global Service Forum panelists, Dr. Marco Roncarati and Ms. Diane Melley, are recipients of the Global Peace Awards, recognized at the Awards Gala held on March 1. The Global Peace Convention will conclude on March 2, followed by the Global Youth Summit convened on March 3 in Manila’s SM Mall of Asia Arena.