Meeting the 2030 Agenda: key takeaways from the United Nations High-Level Political Forum

Angela Kileo, 27, is a Youth Think Tank alumni from Tanzania who, during her time with Restless Development, explored the potential of hospitality and tourism for young people’s employment. She graduated from St. Augustine University of Tanzania with a Bachelor of Sociology and is passionate about societal issues. 

Angela has previously led outreach initiatives in support of disadvantaged youth and children as well as worked to provide assistance to orphans and cancer patients at different orphanages and hospitals in DAR es Salaam. She is also passionate about climate action and has worked to assess the causes, effects and adaptable measures to take on climate change in Tanzania.

This July, I was fortunate to be part of the youth delegates from Restless Development that attended the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where UN member states participated effectively in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s theme was “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

Angela at the HLPF

The HLPF was an amazing advocacy platform that enlightened participants on the need and importance of governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local communities coming together to play a meaningful role in ensuring that the Agenda 2030 is implemented. 

The need for social accountability was one of my key takeaways from the forum. CSOs should be able to successfully engage with governments and develop long-lasting relationships to ensure that long-term developmental strategies are achieved. As stated by Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, Minister of Legislative Reform and Parliamentary Affairs of Timor Leste, “We disagree sometimes, but CSOs have a very important role to play in this journey.”

“We disagree sometimes, but CSOs have a very important role to play in this journey.”

Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, Minister of Legislative Reform and Parliamentary Affairs of Timor Leste

Governments should allow and encourage the participation of CSOs and local communities in conducting research, policy formulation and development, as well as advocacy. To ensure effective social change, national development plans and SDGs should move concurrently, and CSOs should be able to measure this progress without undue governmental interference. 

During the course of the forum, Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of about 47 member countries were presented. These VNRs were geared towards facilitating the sharing of experiences, and that included successes, challenges and lessons learned in the process of accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

I was greatly impressed by the Tanzania Voluntary National Report that was presented by Dr Philip Mpango, Minister of Finance of Tanzania. It was an incredible eye opener for me. Not only did I get to know the progress of my country in the implementation process of the SDGs but also how, as a young person, I can be part of the process and contribute effectively to it.

I was able to engage in different workshops and side events which shared a wealth of knowledge. I was also fortunate enough to share my opinions and ask questions to the panellists and key speakers about the experiences and challenges of young people as partners in the attainment of the SDGs. These events also provided a great networking platform, as I got to rub shoulders with government leaders, policy makers and other SDGs advocates.

Angela raising pertinent questions at an event about experiences from Africa on institutionalizing partnerships, inclusivity and accountability.

On World Youth Skills Day, it was impressed upon me that young people should always be curious and vigilant about learning. It is essential to keep “learning to learn” so that we can think critically and integrate new skills in our repertoire so as to address the skills mismatch between young people and the job market. That’s the only way to ensure decent jobs for all. 

Another key takeaway from the forum was that a great deal of the local community is still not aware of the SDGs and how to be active in their implementation. I understood this to be one of the major hindrances to the attainment of the SDGs. It is essential that the implementation of the SDGs starts at the grassroots level with the support of the government, CSOs and NGOs, so as to ensure their successful attainment. Substantial progress towards Agenda 2030 can be achieved if the local community plays a central role in the implementation process. 

Civil society organizations should engage local government officials to spread awareness about SDGs and together provide training and educational programs to the local communities, especially young people and women. Creating an interesting way to talk about the SDGs as well as the localization of language is fundamental to attracting more people to the cause. 

The Youth Accountability Advocates and Youth Think Tank researchers meeting our partners at UN women for a focus group discussion

The youth-led research approach or citizen-generated data was highlighted as one of the significant ways to ensure youth participation in the SDGs because it captures the lived experiences of young people in their societies. It is an important way to elevate the voices of young people in their communities. Therefore, it is crucial that the data collected by these young people is of a quality good enough to influence development policies. The reports generated from the data collected should be accessible to young people and all stakeholders with the capability to affect meaningful change. 

Another major takeaway from the forum is the need to stop viewing the youth as a homogeneous group while trying to tackle issues that affect them because they have multiple identities due to factors such as gender, disability, race, age, ethnicity etc. In my opinion, there isn’t one single solution that will serve all youth around the world. Instead, efforts should be geared at creating a framework of solutions that can be used as a guide to cater to the wide-reaching issues faced by different youth populations around the world. 

Angela speaking to NGO Speak whilst at the HLPF

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.

Meeting the 2030 Agenda: key takeaways from the United Nations High-Level Political Forum

by wearerestless Reading time: 4 min