SDGs, Youth Empowerment and Climate Action: Three Sides of a Coin. By Uche Agbanusi Ph.D.
SDGs, Youth Empowerment and Climate Action: Three Sides of a Coin.
Two Sub- Topics presented by
Tpl. Agbanusi Uchechukwu Jonathan Ph.D. fnes, fnim, fnitp, fcai, fnipr, res (Chicago, Illinois, USA) Former National President of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES). Former Director of FCT Tourism Department. Former Head of Public Health Department, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners.
i). SDGs 4 & 8 examining the intersection between quality education and decent employment
Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) is the education goal. It aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
While, Sustainable Development Goal 8 is about “decent work and economic growth”
Now, Target 4.1 states that by 2030, they (that is, various governments) will ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes that should be ensured for all, without discrimination. Target 4.4 for instance emphasizes on access to education and skill acquisition.
For Access: It emphasized that equitable access to TVET or Technical and Vocational Education and Training, needs to be expanded while quality is ensured. According to UNESCO-UNEVOC, the field of TVET, requires both definition and differentiation from other designations. Learning opportunities should be increased and diversified, using a wide range of education and training modalities, so that all youth and adults, especially girls and women, can acquire relevant knowledge, skills and competencies for decent work and life.
For Skills acquisition: Beyond work-specific skills, emphasis must be placed on developing high-level cognitive and non-cognitive/transferable skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, communication skills and conflict resolution, which can be used across a range of occupational fields. Again, Target 4.7 states that by 2030, all governments should ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
On the other hand, by the UN definition: SDG 8 states that by 2030, that various governments will achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. It then means that the governments should promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Unfortunately, despite many claimed progresses, not all the workforce is enjoying decent work. Globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to pre-financial crisis levels. Unequivocally, to achieve this SDG Goal 8, governments of nations should take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, at least by 2025 there should be an end to child labour in all its forms.
Having examined what SDG 4 and 8, showcased in attractive ways, this paper will briefly address the Education to Employment challenges with due regards to skill development and education-to-employment initiatives. Therefore, successful efforts that should address this challenge must be the ones that can refer to and also recognize the dire need for different stakeholders to interact intensively and frequently. As a practicable reality, the employers need to get involved in education, and educators should play a bigger role in employment. This will mean seamless integrated interactions between the academia and the industries. In most parts of the World, more than half of young people are unemployed. Most youths are jobless, not just because of lack of quality education or requisite qualifications, but due to lack of integrated and systematic approach in making use of the abundant manpower developed through qualitative education. Surprisingly, at the same time, businesses complain that they cannot find the workers they need. There is, in short, a serious mismatch between what many young people have to offer and what business needs—and this problem is not going away. In effect, they are travelling different roads. Hence, in order to address youth unemployment, two fundamentals need to be in place: skill development and job creation. In job creation, there are effective individual programs as well as efforts, but these tend to be small; moreover, they are the exception, not the norm. The most successful efforts should refer to those where the different stakeholders interact intensively and frequently. Employers get involved in education, and educators play a bigger role in employment. Unfortunately, governments who are policy makers that supposed to put in place the right infrastructure required to improve the performance of these needed relationships between quality education and decent employment are practically not functioning well, and in some cases such policies do not even exist. There is an obvious absence of empirical research and no mechanisms to coordinate and monitor activity.
ii). Empowering urban youth for active participation in their local communities
Generally, empowerment involves the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Hence, attention must be given to how to engage the youth to actively participate and contribute to their local community development. For quite some time, the youth involvement in community planning, decision making, and action has not received a lot of attention in the past, but in recent times youth are becoming increasingly restive and therefore want to be involved in community development. It is instructive that Youth collaboration can benefit community nonprofit organizations, volunteer programs, and nongovernmental organizations. Therefore, active participation of the youth in their local communities’ affairs should be seriously encouraged. Through active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities. It is pertinent to note at this juncture, that the UN has long recognized that young people are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation.
Therefore, empowering, strengthening and including young people in the work environment will reduce unemployment, crime, drugs abuse and other crimes the youths may get involved in due to idleness. There is this old adage that says that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Empowering youth and engaging them in community activities allows them to interact with adults and have guidance as they develop the skills needed to make decisions and solve complex issues. So, give youth an opportunity to contribute and offer their input. Allow active collaboration between adults and youth—integrate youth into committees with adults who can act as mentors. In today’s society, the open markets and globalization result in laying off workers and outsourcing work to the countries where it is cheaper. This makes it more difficult for the young people to find jobs and further complicates the already problematic lives of the youth. Youth engagement is a central principle of youth development. Through youth engagement, communities can do a better job of creating the services, opportunities, and supports that young people need to develop in healthy ways.
There are lots of ways for teens to be active in your community. They can do that through joining a local youth group (e.g. Girl Guides or Scouts) or an environmental group. coordinating or coaching junior sport. volunteering at local festivals or community park clean-ups; being part of a youth advisory group in their community; plant a community garden; volunteer to help community members in need; join the effort to provide housing for all; help kids on the streets; collect items for those in need; help others find work; spread the word about poverty in their area (communities). Communities and organizations benefit when they collaborate with youth, this collaboration also helps youth themselves. Community participation helps youth become empathetic citizens who could potentially continue similar work when they become adults. Additionally, youth who give back to their communities develop leadership skills, learn the importance of helping, and gain work experience. Empowering the youth will lead to a better society, a better country, a better world. Nevertheless, education is the key to a better society, a better country, a better world.