Towards 2030; The leading role of young people in poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development
(By; Julius P. Kessy)
The International Youth Day (IYD) is here! This year’s day is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and as world leaders seek to build on the Millenium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve, youth engagement in this year’s celebrations is more valuable than ever. It’s an opportunity to recognize the creative force and the innovative impetus that young people bring to every society and to celebrate young people’s views, initiatives, efforts and their collaboration and participation in the road to 2030. But the question Africans always ask themselves is; How can they achieve sustainable development? The answer is “We can achieve it through sustainable production and consumption” which entails the use of products and services that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The words of the renown scholar Prof. Ali Mazrui best captures Africa’s status. He says; “Africa produces that which it does not consume and consumes that which it does not produce”. There is therefore a need to place an emphasis on cross-sectoral approach to sustainability and the vast social, political, economic and environmental interlink ages needed to achieve it. The synergistic effect of sustainable consumption and production e.g. on energy use and environmental conservation will significantly profit the populace and places that are more susceptible to detrimental environmental and industrial outcomes and climate change. Unlike her western counterparts Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and increasing the efficiency of which, greases the wheels towards sustainable production. This remarkably contributes to making the basic needs more affordable and accessible to all people including the youth and those living in extreme poverty. As an opener to corridors of new markets, sustainable production ensures that economies are structurally transformed to create shared growth, decent jobs and economic opportunities for all. On the other hand, refining consumption patterns holds great potential for poverty alleviation and creates an economy that reduces environmental risks and ecological scarcities i.e. attaining sustainable development without degrading the environment. This will inturn rescue higher proportions of spending that Africa had never been able to save for social development such as education and health care. In my recent talk with the executive secretary of African Youth Union (AYU), Mr. Jacob Ssali emphasizes that; Africa is the youngest continent, with 40% of the working population being youth and an estimated 200 million youth on the continent. This makes youth the most important resource on the continent and key to its sustainable growth. Young, smart and vibrant, our potential is limitless. In order to unlock youth potential there is a need to create an enabling environment to efficiently utilize it. This includes promoting training and innovation, availing sources of financing and raw materials and connecting production to available markets. All these factors are not separate as often presumed but are all linked into one sustainable growth machine. He further continues; If properly utlised this is Africa’s best chance to eradicate poverty and attain sustainability. An enabled youth population is the biggest driver of growth and production and is in turn the biggest consumer. Now is the time to start investing in Africa’s most precious resource. However, the dream to egalitarian socioeconomic development still faces stumbling blocks in that; Many of our young men and women face barriers to sustainable consumption like high-priced commodities and services and poor information on available options. In order to achieve such equitable evolution then, promotion of one’s choices and actions is critical in minimizing pollution and increasing the eco-efficiency of consumption for all “leaving no one behind” as pledged by Ban Ki-moon.
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