Guest reporter: Subhajit Saha
On 15 June, Hanil High School students in Korea and Global Youth Leaders including the UN DPI Youth Representatives and NY-based NGO youth leaders convened at the annual IVECA – Global Youth Virtual Roundtable to discuss the Roles of Youth in Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout the session, the participants discussed a variety of overarching questions regarding the roundtable theme, from “What are the SDGs?,” to “What would you do to contribute to achieving the SDGs?”
The second segment was commenced with words of inspiration from former United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, “Be proud to be young. You are not the leaders of tomorrow, you are the leaders of today.” The statement can be attested to the work of Hanil IVECA Club students and Global Youth Leaders, who are contributing to Agenda 2030.
Hanil High School students are contributing to civil society efforts through grassroots initiatives at their school and community. Taewoo Kim of Hanil IVECA Club is currently working on SDG 4: Quality Education by designing programs that aim to send African children to school, who may otherwise not be able to do so due to poverty. Hyunjun Shim is supporting SDG 15: Life Below Water by raising awareness of marine life issues through campaigns at his school. Junghun Park, a firm gender equality activist, is working on achieving SDG 5: Gender Equality by promoting the sharing of domestic chores that are typically performed by women. Jiwon Baek supports SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation by informing his peers about the lack of access to clean water faces by millions in the developing water.
Global Youth Leaders are performing similar work alongside their Hanil High School counterparts in Korea, in an effort to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030. Jadayah Spencer, Chair of UN DPI Youth Representatives’ Steering Committee is working with several NGOs to end negative stereotypes about Africa and the Black community by training Black and Latino youth to become the next generation of visionary leaders. She is also involved in teaching youth how to advocate, in addition to designing solutions for problems faced by their community. Secretary of the Steering Committee, Subhajit Saha, brings to light the issues faced by young Bangladeshi orphans through social media campaigns and outreach initiatives at the United Nations and in the private sector. Furthermore, he promotes the alignment of Education for Global Citizenship and the Together Campaign to promote respect, safety and dignity for all. His colleague of the UN DPI Youth Representatives, Aishwarya Narasimhadevara is dedicated to women’s empowerment in medicine. In addition to leading a movement pertaining to improving access to water in Zimbabwe, she is currently working with Javita Nauth, whose organization constructs a school with eco-friendly and earthquake resistant material in villages of Nepal. Javita also conducted the first young women and mental health thematic session of the Youth Forum at the 61st UN CSW session. James Corbett, through his own initiative, Project Refit, is developing a web-based communication platform that assists military members to tell their stories through YouTube videos, podcasts, blog posts, and social media.
Hanil High School Students and Global Youth Leaders completed the roundtable session with Q&A. During this time, participants discussed the possible danger of technology in hindering sustainability, in addition to the role of youth in the betterment of society at a time of tension amongst world leaders. All participants left the session with a sense of inspiration and hope, in a commitment to improving the world we live in.
A Hanil student commented, “IVECA changed my dream. I wanted to be a doctor only to make a big money, but now I want to be a doctor who helps African refugees and dedicated to treating infectious diseases through the UN or WHO.”
James, one of the youth panelists shared his reflection, “[the Global Youth Virtual Roundtable] truly had impacted me in a positive way… it was evident the experience had a positive impact on them [Korean high school students], as well. I truly believe this effort should be reached into high schools around the world.”
Jadayah, moderator of the roundtable said, “Learning from the IVECA students in Korea, gave me insight. The students posed important questions, and our discussion about overcoming obstacles towards progress was candid and eye-opening. It gave me hope, and confirmed for me that youth around the world carry the spirit of collaboration, and the hope for achieving the goals that benefit us all. It was inspiring, and I look forward to bringing in more youth from New York City to engage in these conversations.”