Today is day one of three for the twenty one youth attending the UN High Level Political Forum as part of the BC Council for International Cooperation Delegation. Aged 19–25, we are the largest youth delegation attending the UN for this forum, representing Canadian civil society from British Columbia, Canada. Over the past two months we have engaged with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in varying ways within our communities across the province, including environmental and social justice initiatives at international and local scales, youth engagement across the province, and analyzing our perspectives in relation to how we work within the SDG Framework as youth and changemakers.

Two of our team members, Helen Garbiec and Katelyn Ling, have been at the UN for over a week attending events associated with the goals under review. The remainder of our delegation joined over the weekend for this week’s events, including countries’ reporting on their SDG progres.

As a team, there are three key themes that we believe are vital for the success of the SDGS.

  1. Leave No One Behind: Promote equal opportunities for groups in Canada and abroad that are traditionally and historically marginalized, in particular, women, youth and Indigenous Peoples. Safe social environments, equal political expression, and financial independence for all are fundamental in achieving the SDGs. Policy must be designed to include the intersections of our diverse identities.
  2. Systems Focus: Promote the need for policy coherence and cross-sector collaboration within government and among private and civil society to capture the integrated and inseparable nature of the SDGs. This includes addressing the specific needs of our diverse population both geographically and demographically by delivering localized programming.
  3. Accountability/Implementation: Ensure all organizations, communities, and levels of government in Canada are being held accountable to the targets of the SDGs. A transparent and consistent subnational framework for reporting, evaluating and monitoring is needed to enact the goals in meaningful ways for Canada’s population. To encourage cooperation and collaboration, widespread education on the SDG framework is an essential component to guarantee that we leave no one behind.

In addition to advocating for these three themes, our lived experiences as youth provide us unique and valuable perspectives on the SDGs. There is no plan B for the young people of the world. Two of our youth delegates, Kaila Borrelli and Ariel Mishkin are meeting with The Honourable Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, to discuss youth engagement within the Canadian Government’s forthcoming SDG Unit, which we believe to be critical to its success.

Canada’s Voluntary National Review was released two weeks ago, indicating the first glimpses in how the Canadian SDG unit will operate. Tomorrow the BCCIC’s youth delegation will return to witness Canada present these results to the UN. This is an exciting time to be a Canadian at HLPF — though we’re doing our first VNR three years into the framework, we are looking forward to learning more about Canada’s nation wide SDG Unit which will operate throughout the lifetime of the goals. There’s a lot yet to come and we’re excited to work with the various stakeholders on the 2030 Agenda.

If you are interested in speaking directly with one of our youth delegates or learning more about Canada’s youth participation with the SDGs, please reach out!

Written by: Kaila Borrelli, Ariel Mishkin, & Noni Nabors