Youths for SDGs: A Generation Engaged For A Better Future

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Partners at the Youth for SDG event
From the left: Dr. Saravone Kittiphanh, Mr. Sivilay Chanthaphoumy, Ms. Mariam Khan, Mr. John Pearson, Ms. Souksaveuy Keotiamchanh, Mr. Savankhone Razmountry, Mr. Olivier Didry.

Zero Waste Laos, together with support from numerous partners, held a conference from 5-6 December on “Youths For SDGs.”

With support from Norwegian People’s AID (NPA), UNFPA, NTPC, KOICA, UNV, US embassy, UK embassy, Swisscontact and the International School of Laos, the event was aimed at gathering innovative and talented young people to discuss their role in building a better future for themselves and the planet, exploring alternative solutions to reduce pollution, promoting green practices, and fostering sustainable development.

Young boys and girls play an important role in advocating for and achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Lao PDR, under UNFPA ‘s “My Body, My Planet, My Future” campaign youth engage and contribute to shaping the future by providing their voices for policy implementation, COVID-19 awareness and prevention, sexual and reproductive health rights, gender equality and ecological solutions to protect the planet and their future.

Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Savankhone Razmountry, said “the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)results and success. In addition to the 17 global SDGs, Lao PDR has adopted an 18th national SDGs. Laos had made strong efforts to reach the MDGs then to adapt their transition in achieving SDGs goals and align them with each National Socio-Economic Development Plan over the past 5 years.”

The opening ceremony of the Youths for SDGs event.
The opening ceremony of the Youths for SDGs event.

The conference took place in Vientiane on 5-6 December, it was organized with the support of more than 20 organizations and 130 volunteers. It gathered over 200 and 300 young men and women who participated in different sessions to explore their right to make choices for their future and the added value represented by their participation in the COVID-19 recovery, the way forward on long term strategies to protect the environment and their future.

It was also an occasion for the different NGOs and volunteer groups to showcase their work and creative initiatives as well as to attract donors, raise funds, and build partnerships.

“Zero Waste Laos was established about a year ago as an environmental volunteering group with the goal to raise awareness and engage young people to be involved in solving environmental problems, especially on waste issues. Since its formation, there is a great increase in membership, across the whole country,” said Ms. Souksaveuy Keotiamchanh, founder of Zero Waste Laos.

Speakers at the event

“UNFPA is committed to realizing the full potential of young people, with partners, we provide platforms to youth to speak, to engage, and to take action. When youth are given the space, the opportunity to acquire knowledge and encouraged to take action, communities, and countries can accelerate sustainable development” said Mariam. A Khan, UNFPA Representative.

“NPA is working on SDGs 18, however, SDG 18 is not a ‘stand-alone’ goal. The SDGs are reinforcing and interconnected. Progress in one area often is dependent upon progress in others. As such, progress on SDG 18 and in the UXO sector is directly related to the progress on SDGs 1 and 2, 8, 10, and 16. NPA also strives to contribute to SDG 5 on Gender Equality and places high importance on promoting women’s and gender equality in our operations,” said Mr. Sivilay, NPA officer.

“In connection with SDG 13 on Climate Action, NPA is proud to be a partner of Zero Waste Laos. We are implementing a joint project to reduce the environmental footprint of NPA’s operations and offices in Lao PDR. Together, we are trying to increase awareness of environmental protection, stop the burning of garbage, increase access to recycling, and implement green solutions, such as composting. NPA is very impressed by the energy and passion of the youth volunteer networks in Lao PDR and the determination of young Lao people to ensure a better future for Lao PDR,” he added.

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