After years of intense negotiations the United Nations have reached unprecedented consensus around a new framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs were adopted on September 25th, 2015 during a High Level Summit with heads of states in New York and the World YMCA was present at the session.The Summit started with a powerful speech delivered by Pope Francis in his first visit to the UN. He urged reforms in the UN system to make it better able to respond to the needs of the world today and for prioritization of people and their social needs over economic power.
Shortly after, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala, gave a speech from the balcony of the general assembly hall accompanied by 193 youth, representing all UN member states and amongst them, a YMCA representative. Malala asked the head of states to listen to the voices of youth and demanded them to make a promise to the younger generations that they will deliver the SDGs.
The SDG aims are to eliminate poverty and to reduce the human impact on earth in order to preserve our common world. This new global agreement builds on on the success of the Millennium Development Goals which expired in 2015.
The World YMCA have followed up on the SDG process since 2012 by taking part in several meetings and initiatives. Several national YMCAs have also participated in events and consultations about the SDG’s, organised by UN entities at a national level. Our work to empower young people and our goal to triple the number of youth we serve in future decades will be an important contribution in the achievement of the SDGs.
While in New York for a week’s activities including the UN General Assembly, the World YMCA met with several partners and UN agencies to explore ways in which we can contribute in delivering the SDGs. Information about the YMCA One Million Voices Research results and launch of its second round was shared, as well as reinforcement that the YMCA is a partner of choice for implementing programmes on the ground and to provide cost effective solutions in youth empowerment programming.
The follow up work and the search for opportunities within this new agenda will take time as the UN itself will ignite the process of delivery beginning today and several questions related to the 17 goals and its targets are yet to be defined. We will keep our eyes open!
The next big step in relation to the SDGs is the Climate Conference, COP 21, to be held in Paris in December. The World YMCA will be present at this meeting with a strong delegation of young advocates and continue to have a strong presence where important decisions are being taken.
Direct from New York,
Executive Secretary for Youth Empowerment