The United Nations passed the Agenda for Sustainable Development on September 25, 2015, consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targeted for 2030. Also known as the Global Goals, the SDG is a universal call to transformative action. It’s an inclusive platform designed to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all. Every one of the 193 UN member states signed up for this agenda. To meet the 17 targets, each nation must act decisively and inclusively. Government, corporations, and individuals must be equally aligned.
It is absolutely imperative that these targets are familiar to people the world over because exhaustive research is unequivocal. Sustainable global development is entirely achievable but only through comprehensive, cross-sector efforts, beginning with education. Every nation must play their role and the people must hold their leaders accountable because the status quo works against these targets. A lot of invested and powerful interests will do everything within their power to see that nothing changes. That means that everyone, from business leaders to academics to individuals young and old the world over, everyone must fight for their right to a sustainable, peaceful, prosperous future. And “you can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are.”
A carefully conducted pilot survey recently revealed that despite the fact that the Global Goals have been in the public realm since 2015, most people in Ghana remain largely unaware of the 17 targets and the extraordinary impact they will have should we as a world, finally manage to meet them. 82% of Ghana’s population remains largely unaware of these important targets and unconscious of their right to see them implemented. The World Merit Ghana (WMG) members believe that the people of Ghana need a much more inclusive, grassroots approach toward tackling the resistance to the changes required to meet these Global Goals if there is to be any hope of achieving the targets. With this in mind,
The World Merit Ghana (WMG) members believe that the people of Ghana need a much more inclusive, grassroots approach toward tackling the resistance to the changes required to meet these Global Goals if there is to be any hope of achieving the targets. With this in mind, Joshua Kobla Adzakpa, and his remarkable team came up with the Sustainable Development Awareness Campaign (SDAC), a project designed to empower, inform, and enlighten the youth of Ghana. After all, they are the people who stand to benefit from the realization of these Global Goals and the ones who will suffer the most, should we as a world fail to meet them.
The World Merit Ghana team held their inaugural event at the University Of Cape Coast in April 2016, an afternoon graced by the former First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings. This was attended by some 1200 students as part of the Women Empowerment Seminar, which was organized by the Women’s Commissioner, Eunice Amoako.
It was so well received that the team took their campaign on the road, including Presbyterian Senior High School, Kpone Presbyterian Primary School, Navrongo Senior High School, University of Ghana and beyond. They organized the Sustainability Forum – an SDGs Workshop which featured Policy Analyst of The Hunger Project and representative of the UN Women Working group, Mary Kate Costello as the Keynote Speaker. As is true of every great movement today, technology is key to this campaign’s success, giving the team the ability to share information and infographics across the country and around the world over a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.
The team continues with their mission, actively engaging as many individuals, classrooms and communities as possible, inciting them to action and encouraging them to assume responsibility for the future. This year, the team has focused their campaign on senior high schools and on building a partnership with various stakeholders, soliciting the support needed to take the SDAC to the four corners of Ghana.
2017 is off to a good start. After an insightful and interactive response from the students at Abrakrampa Senior High School, Joe and the team took this undeniably essential information to the young people of Mfantsipim, the alma mater of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. The team had the singular honour of introducing to the students the notable Ravi Karkara, Senior Strategic Partnership Advisor to the Deputy UN Secretary General and co-chair UN Women, who then addressed the students via Skype.
They collaborated with EQWIP HUB and organized the ‘Introduction to Eco-Entrepreneurship Workshop’ on Sustainable Development Goals. They connected with local social entrepreneurs and chatted with Roger Worme, a notable and enthusiastic changemaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Roger reminded us all that people all over the planet are working together, prompting, probing, and pushing leaders everywhere to ensure that collectively we make it so.
The SDAC is far, far more than the simple presentation of enormous import delivered to Ghana’s youth like a lecture in a classroom. It is an urgent call to action. The students are encouraged and empowered, they are reminded of their agency, their instrumentality, and their ability to create the world they will inhabit. They create SDG focused organizations in schools, which interact in their communities and involve those with whom they share their corner of the world. It’s the essence, the very definition of grassroots activism in action. The day concludes on the upbeat, jamming to music and brainstorming ways to walk the pathway these 17 steps ultimately take us to.
SDAC empowers people. With this information, they are given a dream, an idea of the place and space they have the power to create. With that dream in mind, they become SDG ambassadors. They wake up and take up the challenges so essential to the growth and development of a livable world, a world currently balanced on the very precipice of unparalleled disaster, the sixth mass extinction event, something few, if any, of us would survive. And yet, despite the undeniable enormity of the challenges they face, these magnificent millennials give us all good reason to have hope, faith, and cheer for the future. Why? Well, because as Victor Hugo so eloquently said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
The time has come.