Sustainable Africa and the Role of the Youth

Damilola Hamid Balogun:
CEO: Youth Sustainable Development Network

Where does the Youth Sustainable Development Network come from, and how does it connect to SDG four: quality education?

The Youth Sustainable Development Network aims to enhance knowledge building and social entrepreneurship development, which is crucial in achieving the UN 2030 and the 2063 Africa agenda. At the Youth Sustainable Development Network, we firmly believe that young people need to be enlightened and be provided with resources to take action towards the Sustainable Development Goals. We are aligned with SDG four as we educate the youth about the importance of achieving the 17 goals while guiding them towards the development of positive social impact projects.

Which type of resources does the YSDN provide for the youth?

We provide human resources, financial resources, and intellectual resources. We bring young people from every continent together to discuss from a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. We host a platform where young people can discuss and see how they can deal with their respective realities in their continent. Our most recent impact project was an agricultural solar irrigation project in Lagos, Nigeria. We raised funds from our partners, and we could provide farmers in Lagos with solar irrigation. This type of impact is only possible through guiding different stakeholders ranging from young professionals to small business owners.

Speaking about the fifth SDGs (gender equality), how conscious do you think African businesses are, and how is the YSDN supporting through its mission the progress on this goal?

The primary thing as a business is to empower women strictly. Once women are empowered, they can generally meet up their needs. They can stand their ground. We are centred around the fact that we want to work with more women because it will provide long term sustainable growth at the social and economic levels. Therefore, there is a need for them to have higher representation. In the Youth Sustainable Development Network, we have seven board of directors, out of which five are women. We need to support women in addressing zero poverty, zero hunger, access to energy, and partnership between countries to achieve the goals.

Would you say in terms of communications and narrative, it’s more important to put forward that Africans have been placed at the back seats or that Africans, particularly women, must be empowered?

When talking about Africa, we are talking about several stakeholders, of which many are the youth and women. I think one cannot be done without the other. So we should prioritise by providing more women with the opportunity to take front seats, creating more inclusiveness in our dialogues. Once you’re able to empower women, you can empower a community. If we can be at the front seat of discussions where our voices are heard equally, there is a higher chance to empower our continent and its people. The strategic way to do this is to have women right in front of these conversations.

Could you tell us more about the Youth Sustainability Development Conference 2022 and what it aims to achieve at a regional level?

The Youth Sustainability Development Conference is a key area in achieving our mission in building a sustainable world with young people at the forefront. We bring across young people to speak on pressing problems concerning sustainable development. Through these dialogues, they can recommend policies. From there, we can kickstart a project with the communities we work with. We offer education, awareness, advocacy, research, best practices, and putting all of these things into action to transform local communities. We must begin to align with the current reality of our global arena to deliver a better world to future generations.