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IBVM Spain Alumni: Dialogue on Sustainable Development Goals

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On June 14, IBVM’s Youth Representative in Spain (Carlota Gayo) organised a small virtual event with a group of Alumni from the schools in Madrid, Bilbao and Seville. The aim of this initiative was to create a space for young people to express themselves on international issues related to the United Nations (UN) and to try to attract participants to get involved in upcoming activities/events.

The organisation of this dialogue between Alumni and the Youth Representative was structured in different sections.

The event started with a brief presentation of the participants and a big thank you for participating in the survey launched in May in which potential attendees were asked about their knowledge and interests regarding UN’s SDGs.  Then Cecilia O’Dwyer explained the IBVM/CJ’s mission at the UN as an NGO. The office plays a significant role within the civil society group at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Department of Global Communications.

We then discussed the following SDGS:

  • Social: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16)
    The situation in Ukraine was one of the main issues addressed in terms of global peace and stability. The two sides of the coin, multilateralism and unilateralism, are in dispute today with Russia exerting force against the attacked Ukrainian territory. Moreover, young people participating were concerned about war crimes being committed by Russian troops. With this scenario, it is extremely difficult to find a peaceful solution. However, it is key to set preventive measures aimed at avoiding violence and war.
  • Economic: Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8)
    Despite the effect of covid-19 on the economy, attendees emphasised the role that digitisation will play in the upcoming years in which technology will either create new jobs or destroy some that are existing nowadays. Thus, they all agreed that adapting to fast-changing machines and technological advances is a must. Additionally, they stressed the importance of women’s work and the fight to strive for equal job opportunities without any kind of gender gap (also in line with SDG 5: Gender Equality).
  • Environmental: Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Affordable and Clean Energy
    (SDG 7) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)
    Access to basic water is a fundamental right which must be enjoyed by every human being. Nevertheless, participants agreed that in many countries that is not the case. One of the girls shared her experience towards contributing to the deployment of water purification plants in India during her volunteering work three years ago. Consequently, developed countries (the Global North) must help those in urgent need of help (the Global South) to have access to water that is not polluted. For this, good governance should be a guiding principle for local governments. When having a look at the last SDGs (nº7 and nº11), they all shared the need to adapt to new sources of renewable energy and apply them in metropolitan and urbanised areas in cities. Generating clean energy and leaving behind fossil fuels should be a priority.

Each participant was able to express themselves comfortably and honestly while listening to each others’ views. But time ran out very quickly and we said goodbye, thanking each other for the pleasant time we had!

Author: Carlota Gayo Nieto

Photo: Cecilia O’Dwyer ibvm, Carlota Gayo Nieto (Spain Province Intern) and two alumni.