From Poverty to Power: Learnings from Sustainable Development

On Wednesday, 17th April 2024, Nigeria Youth SDGs registered as the Network of Youth for Sustainable Initiative (NGYouthSDGs) hosted the Youth SDGs Cafe for the 1st quarter of 2024.

The Youth SDGs Cafe began in 2018 in partnership with the United Nations Information Centre, Lagos and the United Nations Association of Nigeria for young people and sustainability practitioners to learn and network around the themes of sustainable development and fostering the localisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

For this quarter, the expert session focused on the theme, From Poverty to Power: Learnings from Sustainable Development with the speaker being Ms Ruth Lyons the Deputy Head of the Sustainable Development and Financing Team at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).

Ruth Lyons highlighted the ten (10) reasons to love the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how the SDGs can help move us from poverty to power.

Ten 10 reasons to love the SDGs and how they can Help Move Us from Poverty to Power

1) Shared Vision of SDGs: The SDGs offer a unified vision and language for global efforts. This unified vision directs all efforts toward a common goal, enhancing collaboration and understanding across borders. The SDGs were signed by 193 countries in 2015 which indicates uniformity and collaboration among countries from various regions to drive change. Another interesting display of the shared vision of the SDGs is that 8.5 million citizens as well as civil society organisations, government agencies, and religious organisations are all working together to positively impact the goals.

2) Positive Platform for Partnership: The SDGs serve as a platform for diverse voices and perspectives to collaborate on common challenges, thereby fostering learning and cooperation.
The SDGs apply universally to every country meaning they apply as much as Nigeria to other countries like the United Kingdom. Recent research has shown the more diversity of the SDGs, the more innovative approaches are generated by diverse voices towards the SDGs, which reveals that the SDGs are multistakeholder, having diverse skills and perspectives on the table.
The SDGs bring people together who seemingly may have biased opinions but have one voice when it comes to the SDGs. Examples of SDGs platforms; are Ghana’s Annual Private Sector Forum, SDGs Superfans Group and Youth SDGs Cafe.

3) The SDGs are Interlinked and Reinforcing: SDGs are interconnected, which means that progress in one area can positively impact others. Progress in SDG 1 (No Poverty) means progress in Gender Inequality (Goal 5.) Understanding these connections is crucial for achieving overall success. One of the key challenges of the SDGs is addressing the financial gaps to get more investments. Beyond that, understanding the expenditure is required on the SDGs that are Game Changers and also designing round programmes and policies that provide solutions to not just a goal but several goals for greater results.

4) Integration of Climate Change and Development: Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges the world is facing and a bigger threat to achieving the SDGs. The World Bank has estimated that climate change could push 100 million people back into poverty by 2030. Climate Change impacts everything from conflict, drought, clean water, the air we breathe and food security. The good news is that the evidence-based positive benefits of climate and nature action and delivering on the SDGs have been strengthened, It has been said that a key way of eradicating poverty will be through climate and nature action. Examples are developing climate resilience crops that can be grown all year round, localising clean energy sources, and social protection. The UK recently released an International development white paper focused on tackling climate change and poverty together which is an effort to keep the SDGs on track.

5) The SDGs promise to Leave No One Behind: Central to the SDGs is the commitment to inclusivity and addressing the needs of marginalised groups. Leaving No One Behind is a fundamental principle for the 2030 agenda.
LNOB is not just a moral obligation but it requires a lot of evidence to show that prosperity and policy are for all. It also requires identifying and tackling the root causes of exclusion, systematically. An Example of LNOB in action is a Cafe in Japan, operated by people with disabilities, and a school for the blind in Uganda.

6) The SDGs need Creativity, Innovation and new solutions: Achieving the SDGs requires imaginative solutions and innovative approaches. Innovative approaches include Climate Resilience Debt Clauses (CRDC), guarantees, AI breakthroughs, new forms of energy, and lots more. Young people have a vital role in bringing fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, energy and creative imagination to the table. Young people can try new things, and take risks, required to drive the SDGs.

7) Targets, Measures, and Accountability: SDGs provide clear targets and measures on issues and areas to push forward, and help hold governments and leaders accountable for their promises. Data has been effective in identifying the progress of the SDGs, with data we understand who and what is advancing the SDGs. However, traditional metrics need expansion to capture progress accurately.

8) Language and Psychology of Opportunity: Language plays a crucial role in driving action, shifting narratives from pessimism to optimism and opportunity. Psychology is hugely important in moving from poverty to power, inspiring action towards the SDGs. Our language when speaking to countries can negatively impact the progress of the SDGs in those countries. For example, a lot of investors have a sense of risk when investing in Africa, an important way to shift the narrative is to language Africa as a place of opportunity, and solutions, one of the world’s best demographics. Shifting the narratives in the way we envision the SDGs will spring forth actions towards achieving the agenda of 2030, from pessimism to optimism.

9) Implementation at Every Level: SDGs can be implemented at various levels, including local communities. The government has a role to play in the SDGs but you do not need to wait for the government. Local leadership and ownership are particularly effective in accelerating progress. Local knowledge needs to be taken into account and local initiatives implemented.

10) Inspiring Hope: SDGs are intentionally ambitious, aiming to raise humanity’s aspirations. They offer a roadmap for thriving rather than just surviving, instilling hope and resilience in pursuit of a better future.

The SDGs give us superpowers. Anyone can have a role in delivering them without having to wait for the government to take action. Everyone has the power to change the world, implementing strategies and taking actions to move their countries from poverty to power.

You can listen to From Poverty to Power: Learnings from Sustainable Development via our YouTube.