The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) was held at the UN headquarters in New York between July 9 and July 18. Every year, this forum has served as an important opportunity involving leaders in the political and private sectors to gather and grasp the progress being made toward the implementation of the SDGs as well as to discuss what kinds of issues still exist and share success stories. For the latest session, members of the government-backed Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability also participated. In addition, students in the seminar led by Norichika Kanie, a professor of media and governance at Keio University, participated as observers at a side event to the forum. What are the prospects for achieving the SDGs and the current status of the world as seen through the eyes of such young participants?
I was so happy to see the members of the Japanese younger generation taking part in the High-level Political Forum. Young people are not only the leaders of the future but the leaders of today.
Greta Thunberg of Sweden, at the age of 15, began a sit-in protest to alert the climate crisis, arguing that children should not be deprived of their future. Her action has led to a global movement called “Fridays for Future.” Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient at the age 17 for her efforts in fighting for the right of girls to education. It is young people who have the power to change the world.
Looking at Japan, a considerable proportion of youth seems to be indifferent to global issues. The UN Information Centre has been involved in many projects to encourage more young people to realize that they too are the actors of moving forward the implementation of the SDGs.
For example, we have asked universities to join the “UN Academic Impact” initiative, a framework bringing the United Nations and more than 1,300 universities around the world together. As concrete ways to take SDG actions in our daily life, we have launched campaigns such as the “Food Challenge” to reduce food waste and environmental burden through sharing zero-waste recipes. Similarly, “Fashion Challenge” is designed to encourage upcycling.
The SDGs have very ambitious objectives and cannot be achieved without sincere efforts by all actors. Furthermore, the sluggish pace of poverty reduction and the acceleration of climate change have revealed that we must make efforts in implementing the SDGs on a larger scale and at a faster speed. I hold high expectations for the ability of young people to come up with new ideas and the will to act by thinking issues from a global perspective and linking that with their daily actions.
Toshio Iwata, 1st-year graduate student at Keio University
During the event, conversations were held among people from various sectors not only in the meeting rooms, but also in the cafeteria as well as the hallways. I really felt the importance of partnership. The word “indicator” was used often and that made me feel that the time had come to become more involved while thinking about specific results as we move toward achieving the SDGs.
Yukari Inoue, junior at State University of New York at Binghamton
I found deeply interesting the relationship between technological innovation and gender issues, such as how to utilize mobile banking to promote financial independence among women in developing nations. I felt that technological development could narrow the gap between the central and local governments as well as gender disparity. I want to continue to be involved in serving as a catalyst so that more young people can participate in activities related to politics and international cooperation.
Mai Endo, second-year student at Soka Women’s College
Climate change, which was one of the topics under review, is not only an environmental issue, but can also be the trigger for new issues by increasing the number of refugees and delaying access to education. While individual abilities will be important to resolve that issue, I also feel it would be better to create a cooperative structure across nations, such as having Japan, China and South Korea work together to deal with climate change.
Keita Takahashi, junior at Keio University
While one appeal of the SDGs is thinking comprehensively about the issues in the various sectors, it is extremely difficult to quantitatively show what sort of relationship exists between different goals and different targets. Something I felt during the university seminar was once again brought back to me in New York. I believe one issue related to how the effects of the SDGs are demonstrated will depend on whether we can clarify the interlinkage between the goals.
Moeko Onuki, sophomore at Keio University
While I understood in my mind that the SDGs were approved unanimously, I realized once again how wonderful it is for the people of the world to all work toward the same objectives. By the way, PET bottles are no longer used at the United Nations, but rather water servers and paper packs are used. I have begun thinking about how a similar action can be taken in Japan.
- Discussing with university students about current status of SDGs -We will be in charge of the world of 2030 and beyond-
- World will not give up on the future.[Report on High-level Political Forum]
- Young people have the power to transform the world through their actions and ideas.
- Spreading bio jet fuel use by 2030 to clean up the world’s skies.
- Power to believe in the future,which will transform tomorrow.