What are The UN Sustainability Development Goals For Youth And How To Chase Them?

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by Nasir Ahmad Dar

Actions can be anything in pursuit of making, this dream a reality. Some of us may want to clean our local stream while some of us may start teaching the underprivileged kids. Anyone can do anything and if anyone starts doing anything we can bring miracles. These acts are certainly much better than getting depressed by over-thinking and suffering from mental diseases which, by the way, is the trend in the valley right now.

The UN International Youth Day is here. Celebrated on August 12, every year, this day is observed to encourage the youth of the world to take part in the vital changes the world is in dire need of. The hype that goes over this day is immense. The reason for that is that this is, probably, the only day on the calendar when the young minds think that they have a say in the matters of the world. How much say they have? Well, that is debatable.

Banaat Institute of Education celebrates Annual Day

This year the theme of International Youth Day is Youth Engagement for Global Action. Global action and involvement of youth in it is a huge ask but then that is what this day signifies. Going by the theme, UN wants the youth to take part in international affairs. The theme has been set to encourage youth to take part in institutions and learn from them. It also asks youth to join hands with local, national and international level institutions and bring in the changes that they deem the needs of the hour. It is worth mentioning here that this year’s theme signifies the commitment of the UN in engaging youth in policymaking, criticism and peacebuilding around the globe.

So how do the young and brilliant minds of Jammu and Kashmir in general and those of the distorted valley embrace this day and celebrate the impeccable importance that the youth holds in bringing the necessary changes in the world?

To answer this question I must mention here that UN International Youth Day is one of the chapters of UN in order to meet its 2030 agenda enshrined in UN Sustainability Development Goals. There are 17 of these goals and the majority of the world organizations have come together to make these goals a reality. Among the 17 goals mentioned in the UN documents Goal No 4 and 13, which are Quality Education and Climate Action, entice me most.

The fact that I have been into the Youth Empowerment and Environmental Conservation for a long time is the main reason why I have an admiration for these two particular goals. The second reason why I have my focus on these two goals is the fact that I see a possibility of these two goals becoming a reality in the valley of Kashmir. It may take some time but, if we work hard enough, we may see this dream getting realized in its true sense. If somebody asked me which one or two of the Goals the youth of the valley should pursue? I would be swift in my reply with Goal 4 and Goal 13.

What are these two goals?

UNSDG 4

Goal 4 is Quality Education. This goal is to bring in innovative education among masses whereby people will start to become self-sufficient and creative in what they are doing. This goal encourages the use of technology, new subjects and more analytical studies in education. And I don’t think anybody can deny the fact that we need quality education more than anyone else. Our education system has been a total failure due to many reasons.

When it comes to creativity and intelligence our youth is second to none. All we need is proper guidance and exposure. The quality education can be our guide and the things included in it can be our chance of experiencing that exposure which we need. The youth of the valley has a mountain to climb in order to make this dream a reality.

KL Image by Tahir Bhat

But then we have to take that first step towards it. I understand that our education system is in a total mess and it has left the students in total disgruntlement but a failed education should not and must not fail the excellent young minds of the valley.

We are being engulfed by a catastrophic pandemic as of and our reach is under further limitations due to the geopolitical fiasco going on. However, we can still make a start and start encouraging youth to take part in changing the education system. The first thing we need to do is to start believing in ourselves. The incessant sighs of being under some sort of siege and being forced under the shackles of darkness aren’t going to harness us anything but despair. We need to start considering ourselves worthy and deserving. Then we can move ahead and start looking for options and opportunities to take benefit from. The world is more open and closer than it ever was. This is our chance to conduct youth talks, researches, online conferences and career counselling sessions to look forward and find the options which the world is presenting to us. We need to study the most successful education models and fascinating subjects. We can do all this at individual levels before we make it come true at a larger scale.

UNSDG 13

Goal 13 is Climate Action. This goal is to conserve nature in its purest form in order to pass it to the next generations in the form that they won’t regret. This goal seeks actions to be taken to avoid climate change and protect species from getting extinct from the face of our mother earth. Nature is a beautiful thing and it must remain so.

We all are aware of the scenarios we are going through in Kashmir. It is a common understanding that the current turmoil in the valley has led to a failed administration and eventually an environment under a serious threat. Scientists and Environmental Experts are of the belief that we might be on the verge of a major ecological catastrophe in the valley. This is evident because our lakes are poisoned, our forests are depleting and our wildlife is dying its last death. It is worth mentioning here that our beloved Hangul is on the verge of getting extinct. The worse is that our Hangul is just one of its kinds and there is no way to bring it back from extinction. Same goes with Markhor, Snow Leopard, Black Necked Crane and many other unblemished wild animals.
The youth of the valley know the importance of nature and it has been really amazing to see some young people taking part in cleaning their premises. Some of these gentlemen have done a commendable job in cleaning and reviving freshwater springs in the valley. Many others can follow the suit and be part of this sacred act. The youth of the valley can raise their voices and concerns about environmental degradation. This will certainly save our mother Kashmir for future generations to come and keep the captivating scenery alive for a long time. There is a need for conducting detailed research and raising awareness about the importance of conservation of the environment and it is the enthusiastic young blood which can make this dream come true. There are many organizations working well and truly for the safety and security of the environment in Kashmir. We need to recognize them and work together.

Students in the ‘Open-Air Class’ at Eidgah ground in wake of lockdown imposed to curb the spread of deadly Coronavirus, in Srinagar. Muneer Alam, a mathematician has taken an initiative to teach students in an open ground of Eidgah in downtown Srinagar following all Covid-19 SOP’s, in the wee hours of a day, to avoid further academic loss of students following the abrogation of Article 370 and CovidD-19 lockdown. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

United Nations International Youth Day theme for 2020 has also pointed out the failures of institutions and the degradation of trust of people on them. This is a reality and there is no better place than Kashmir to realize it. Almost all of the institutions of the valley have failed miserably and that is why we are in a huge mess. The youth has to take part in recognizing these failures in, at least, two sectors which are; Education and Environment.

So, what can we do?

This is a very important question
. This year’s theme encourages youth engagement in the affairs of institutions at local, national and international level. The bright minds of the valley can start by focusing on the issues faced in their localities. They can make the list of the problems faced by students and the problems in the environment. This will help them understand the problems better. This should follow with significant research for the answers and solutions to the questions which they have asked themselves. This is in our hands and nobody can stop us from doing this. There is an urgent need for the youth to come together and look for better options. The realization of the problems should be followed by actions. Actions can be anything in pursuit of making, this dream a reality. Some of us may want to clean our local stream while some of us may start teaching the underprivileged kids. Anyone can do anything and if anyone starts doing anything we can bring miracles. These acts are certainly much better than getting depressed by over-thinking and suffering from mental diseases which, by the way, is the trend in the valley right now.

Nasir A Dar

The second level where our focus should be is the international level. This year’s theme wants youth to not only participate and learn from international institutions but it also wants the young and brilliant minds to come forward and identify the reasons of the failures of these institutions. It asks youth to suggest policies to make this world a better place to live. It also wants to engage youth in bringing peace by suggesting new measures to end conflicts in countries where it has been prevailing for a very long time. This is our chance to come forward and show the world that we can be the change-makers, this is our chance to tell the world that we are capable enough to lead from the front and this is our chance to prove to the world that the children of conflict can be solutions to the everlasting conflicts around the globe.

Everything mentioned above may seem over-exaggeration of ambitions but, at least, we can try. This is our day and we must make most of it.

(The author is a freelance writer. A resident of Baramulla, he is currently a student of M Tech at Desh Bhagat University. He is associated with the Youth p[arliament. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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