Working together to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Guest blogger Halka Otto, from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, shares how we're working together to make the Global Goals for Sustainable Development a reality

In 2015 world leaders agreed upon a set of global goals for sustainable development. By committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the member states of the United Nations have agreed to an agenda which is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. Eradicating poverty in all its forms, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an essential requirement for sustainable development.

There are 17 goals which will be measured against indicators and targets to be achieved by 2030. The goals balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:

SDG poster

The world’s population is young. Therefore, young people play a key role in helping to achieve the goals. Approximately 1.2 billion youth live in the world today and represent over 14 percent of the global population. The international community has recognized young women and men as a critical resource to society which can be nurtured and mobilized to achieve higher development goals.

Young people are agents of behaviour change, influencing their friends and family around them. Girls in particular have a strong role to play in bringing about social, environmental and economic change for a more sustainable future. Making up over 50 percent of the world’ population, it is particularly important that girls and young women are engaged, consulted and active participants in the achievement of the global goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. It is consistently recognized that we will not achieve progress on any of the other SDGs without first empowering girls and women. Empowering girls to become active, engaged citizens and equipping them to lead and drive change in their communities is a key component in achieving the Global Goals.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have a strong partnership based upon the common interests of empowering young people (particularly girls and young women) to become active, engaged citizens and drive change in their communities. In the past the two organizations have worked together on a number of programmes to empower and develop the capacity of girls and young women to take action on global issues such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and poverty.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have a strong partnership based upon the common interests of empowering young people (particularly girls and young women) to become active, engaged citizens and drive change in their communities. In the past the two organizations have worked together on a number of programmes to empower and develop the capacity of girls and young women to take action on global issues such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and poverty.

YUNGA Challenge Badges are developed in collaboration with United Nations agencies, civil society and other organizations (such as WAGGGS) to raise awareness, educate and motivate young people to change their behaviour and become active agents of change in their local communities. Challenge Badge activities are both educational – and fun!


FAO & WAGGGS Partnership Case Study – Costa Rica

FAO project in the parkIn 2012, the Asociación de Guías y Scouts de Costa Rica, Parque La Libertad (a park linked to the ministry of youth and culture that run activities for youth at risk), FAO Costa Rica and the Ministry of Education collaborated to coordinate in a large national YUNGA project, focusing on biodiversity and climate change.

The project consisted of primary and high school students, as well as Guides and Scouts, spending three months completing the YUNGA curriculum and earning either the Biodiversity Challenge Badge or Climate Change Challenge Badge. Participants then designed their own environmental projects, of which the best proposals were awarded a mini grant to carry out the project and a small plaque to put in their school or Guide and Scout headquarters.

Upon completion of the YUNGA project, which lasted close to a year, the school with the most Challenge Badge participants was awarded with a free concert. The concert featured two Costa Rican artists, Debi Nova and Percance, who are YUNGA ambassadors and had been part of the project from the beginning.

Ale LonjedasAlejandra, one of the young people coordinating the project comments: “my participation in this project gave me a confidence push that lasts to this day, it was very important to me to be able to participate in a project that touched the lives of many young people in my country. And it also gave me the certainty that science is not only knowledge but it is also about sharing it with others in a way that it can be engaging and attractive. If I managed to get one kid to be interested in Costa Rican biodiversity or climate change, I call it a success.” 


New Challenge Badges to support the work of the SDGs include the second version of the Climate Change Challenge Badge and the Ending Hunger Challenge Badge which explores issues of hunger and poverty and what young people can do to take action. In both these examples WAGGGS were a key partner in developing the curriculum content and activities. We hope that many Girl Scouts and Girl Guides will enjoy learning about these issues and taking an active role in their communities to bring about change.

Upcoming Challenge Badges to be released soon include the Nutrition Challenge Badge which looks at health and well-being alongside the health of the planet and sustainable diets. YUNGA is also working with WAGGGS to produce the Gender Challenge Badge and Governance Challenge Badge, both looking at the social pillars of sustainability and drawing out how young women and men can be empowered to take active youth action in their communities for social and global good.

FAO and WAGGGS both share the same belief and responsibility; that empowering youth today and providing them with the knowledge and abilities they need to engage as responsible actors and innovators of their communities will allow them to actively participate in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals tomorrow. 


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