On April 17, 18, and 19 fifteen YES alumni from nine different countries – Pakistan, Oman, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, the Philippines, Malaysia, Tanzania, and Mali – came together in a virtual space with a shared purpose: to teach about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promote the work they do in their own communities, and share strategies and tips to help other YES alumni take their projects from paper and put it into practice. Session leaders were also joined by special guest Hazami Barmada, the CEO of The Barmada Group, LLC and a consultant for a number of institutions that work towards the UN SDGs to speak about the importance of SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals. Audience from all around the world tuned into the SDG Virtual Summit through Facebook Live and an interactive video conferencing platform called Zoom. The audience had the opportunity to ask questions, answer polls, and engage with other attendees to share ideas and network. As of the beginning of May 2018, the YES SDG Virtual Summit videos received over 3,000 views – and the audience weren’t just passively viewing– they were engaged! As Munif from Bangladesh says, “The questions and comments during the sessions were great. I love seeing audience engagement!”
At the SDG Virtual Summit each session leader was assigned to discuss one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how their work aligns with that specific goal. To briefly define the SDGs or the "Global Goals" – The 17 goals constitute a shared global agenda and strive to make the world more sustainable and just in three overarching sectors: economic, social and environmental.
Since the SDGs are diverse and cover a broad spectrum of issues, it only makes sense that the YES SDG Virtual Summit session leaders were also a diverse group in terms of their interests, regions, and work styles. But despite their differences all session leaders shared a similar vision: to promote the global goals. One of the core components of the SDGs is the fact that they are a global effort – and this was certainly reflected in the SDG Virtual Summit. Session leaders hailed from nine different countries and carried out their projects in the most remote corners of their countries and in large metropolitan areas. The session leaders are a testament that regardless of where one lives, everyone has the potential to make a positive impact. The SDG Virtual Summit demonstrates that contributions to this global agenda can be done by planting trees with young children, creating an environmental social media campaign, developing platforms to match recent graduates with internships, taking an invasive plant and turning it into a clean energy source, organizing an interfaith harmony workshops, or teaching young girls self-defense. YES alumni are working on their own separate projects, but together are all part of the collaborative partnership to make the SDG agenda a reality. And under their guidance and enthusiasm, there is the hope that some of the 3,000 viewers were inspired and motivated to carry out a project of their own.
It wasn’t only the viewers who benefited from the SDG Virtual Summit, the session leaders themselves also had the chance to gain skills. In a session leader pre and post summit survey, 88% of respondents reported that their confidence in public speaking had increased, and 100% of respondents reported that participating in the SDG Virtual Summit helped improve their technology skills (such effective use of the Internet, navigation of online platforms, virtual dialogue).
Stephane from Cameroon says that “Having to exchange, share my knowledge and collaborate with great minds from all over the world without having to travel was a whole new experience for me. This proves that we can partner with each other using available resources to impact our communities.”
Koola from Oman also chimed in about the virtual aspect of the summit, “It was very exciting to move from country to country and be introduced to many interesting topics from the comfort of my own bedroom! No packing, flight delays, no jet lag, no time wasted waiting for people to come back from a break and a lot of inspiring stories from around the world one after the other. I couldn't ask for more in a summit.”
Session leaders also had the opportunity to network with one another. Koola further explains, “There was a post summit communication as I was able to get help from a presenter in Bangladesh and we are trying to think of a way to merge our Oman alumni project (JISSER Internship Platform) with Bangladesh alumni who have the skills and interest to make this a joint project.”
Even though the SDG Virtual Summit is over, the YES community can continue to be inspired and motivated by session leaders. All sessions were recorded and have been uploaded to the YES program YouTube channel with links included below.
Learn more about the speakers here.
SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - Aisha Munir and Adu Nasir Ahmad (Ghana)
SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities - Priya Parkash (Pakistan)
SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals - Hazami Barmada (Special Guest Speaker)
SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation- Stephane Kamtchuing Fodjo (Cameroon)
SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure - Gulshan Jubaed Prince (Bangladesh)
SDG 5 Gender Equality - Munif Khan (Bangladesh)
SDG 13 Climate Action - Lyne Chezem (Cameroon)
SDG 2 Zero Hunger- Fily Coulibaly (Mali)
SDG 1 No Poverty - Rosemary Kwofie (Ghana)
SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy- Nor-ain Kumayog (Phillipines)
SDG 4 Quality Education- Gulshan Jubaed Prince and Munif Khan (Bangladesh)
SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production - Ang Zheng Feng (Malaysia)
SDG 15 Life on Land - Bakari Iddi Mtili (Tanzania)
SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth - Kalthoom Al-Khamayasi (Oman)
SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being - Mohammed Wahaj Khan and Sanuallah Jannisar (Pakistan)