Connect for change – NYCI and UNICEF event for young people and the 2030 development agenda

Grace McManus reports from an event for Ireland’s post-millennials on preparing for the era of the sustainable development goals, organised by UNICEF Ireland and the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).


Some of the participants during the introduction (Aug 7th, 2015) Grace McManus.
Some of the participants during the introduction (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus

Three Friday’s ago a group of young people met in the lovely building of the ombudsmen for children,  primed and full of energy to get working with other young people on the sustainable development goals (SDG) 2030 agenda. For more on the SDGs themselves check out my previous blog piece.

Orla Murphy, one of Ireland’s recently appointment Youth delegates to the UN, welcomed the group and spoke enthusiastically about her want to bring perspectives of young people in Ireland to the UN in September. Afterward, Leo Gilmartin from Phoenix Youth Project got everyone talking during the fun and quirky ice breaker session.

We were straight into work than as two young activists delivered the ‘World’s largest lesson’ to the group. The world’s largest lesson aims to have children across the world all learn about the SDGs the week of September 27th. We brainstormed problems in Ireland, and then decided collectively which of the SDGs each problem was addressed by.

The workshop gave a great overview of the goals as well as facilitating their application in practice for us in Ireland.

PhotoGetting a glimpse into the world’s largest lesson (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus
Getting a glimpse into the world’s largest lesson (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus

Next, we did a workshop on global citizenship from teacher D’Arcy Lunn, who has been involved with many different charities and organisations over the past 15 years. The group raised important questions around global citizenship and where shown examples of various organisations that work around the world: Teaspoons of change, Live below the line, and happy simply to name but a few.

Consultation time! (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus
Consultation time! (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus

After lunch, the group split into smaller teams and were involved in reviewing and contributing ideas for an SDG pack which UNICEF was consulting young people about, which can help young activists bring the agenda to their school. We reviewed colour schemes and images, as well as recommending what the pack should include. It was truly great to see that young people themselves know that they have a responsibility to spark the SDG conversation with their peers.

Following this, it was back to the presentation room as Valarie Duffy from NYCI gave an engaging and funny speech on the current and upcoming events on development education- and of course there was a mention of One directions Dev Ed project!

There was an important thread throughout the day, and that was that a person is not only a global citizen some of the time, they are one all of the time. Therefore the perfect end to the day was an activity where we decided what we would do today, tomorrow, and next month to play our role in the 2030 global development agenda.

After all, youth participation is, and will be, central to the success of the sustainable development goals.

Thanks to NYCI and UNICEF for running this event.