By: Mikael Hepburn (6th Trinidad Sea Scouts)
On the 29th of July I attended the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals 16 Youth Peace and Security workshop. The overarching aims of this workshop were to introduce interested persons to the Youth Peace Building project and to get volunteers to help this initiative succeed.
The Sustainable Development Goals are a continuation and furthering of the Millennium Development Goals which the U.N. set out to accomplish in previous years. The SDGs were officially adopted in 2015 with 17 Goals that are geared towards sustainable growth in countries across the world regarding various issues. This workshop focused on SDG 16 which has an overall goal of “The promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Within this goal there are 11 sub - goals with indicators to measure them.
The workshop started at around 9 a.m. and began with a rather brief introduction from the person conducting the workshop. The session continued with a few ice breakers for the group of twenty to be more at ease and get to know each other. The workshop served as an introduction to some of the initiatives that were being planned and to gather people to become volunteers.
Throughout the course of the workshop there were many activities and discussions that were geared towards illustrating many of the goals that SDG 16 aims to improve on and achieve. For example there was a line of tape in the room where they had two people stand on either side. The exercise was intended to get people to see a different point of view in order to “win them over”. Another was a group exercise where participants were asked a question and were told to either agree or disagree. However, this exercise involved movement to a specific side of the room based on your response. Participants could have stood in the middle to represent a neutral standpoint, thus creating a continuum of answers. Most memorable was a discussion on “gun free zones” in which there are areas of the countries people cannot bring weapons into, for example, parks.
Toward the end the discussion, focus was placed on the subject of indicators. It was explained that these were the U.N.’s way of determining if the various goals set out are being met or at least improving. Another way they intend to track it in an indirect way is through the use of proxies in absence of direct measures. This is where the outreach to youths come in. Besides the volunteerism and youth involvement to help propel the SDGs, they would like more youths to come and be involved in indicator and policy crafting for specific countries to make the set of recommendations and policies to be handed to the U.N. or various government bodies to help bring the Sustainable Development Goals within further reach.
The workshop was concluded with a drawing exercise which involved the participants drawing a ‘’path’’ on a large page showing how they all got to the point of coming to the workshop and a few pictures were taken of the group.
Overall, the workshop was a very fun and enlightening experience as I worked alongside other people in a relaxed atmosphere whilst we enjoyed ourselves thinking about pertinent issues. The project itself is a worthwhile endeavor and most importantly, the U.N. is always looking for volunteers to help. For more information about this and similar projects in the Caribbean we were directed to www.2030caribbean.org and www.unv.org.