As part of the widely celebrated Students' Day in Russia and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, on 22 January the Russian Centre in Brussels held a youth meeting on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The discussion was held as part of the Brussels Dialogue Forum.
2020 brought many new challenges into our life as well as gave us new opportunities for better change. In 2015 the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted. It contains 17 universal and overarching goals (SDGs) and 169 targets aimed at creating a better world for all humanity. Beside pandemic situation students that are usually the most active part of society are involved in many social activities related to the UN SDGs, create movements and associations, provide humanitarian aid.
The organisers set out to understand how students are involved in the implementation and promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals:
- Is it possible to achieve the 17 UN Goals in the new reality?
- Are there goals that are more relevant to students?
- How can students participate in the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda?
These and many other questions were discussed on the online platform of the Russian Centre in Brussels.
Participants were youth leaders, representatives of international European, Belgian and Russian youth platforms. They shared ideas and experiences on how students in Russia and Belgium can participate in the implementation of the SDGs, and talked about areas such as education, health, climate, health, employment, promotion of sustainable development.
Vera BUNINA, Director of the Russian Centre, opened the discussion platform with welcoming remarks, underlining the importance of youth dialogue and wishing Happy the upcoming Tatiana’s Day.
Tom MATTHEW, Member of the Board of the European Youth Forum, spoke about the organisation's activities to promote the UN Goals and the organisation's main role in representing the interests of European youth on international consultation platforms.
The representatives of the Russian Humanitarian Mission, Tatiana ORLOVA Deputy Director General for General Affairs presented the organisation's activities, spoke about the sphere of international development assistance, humanitarian aid, and various educational and outreach projects. Konstantin SARVANIDI, Deputy Director General for Support and Logistics, spoke about the “Humanitarian Box” project; he himself has been involved in the collection and provision of humanitarian aid and in international missions on several occasions. He explained how to become a volunteer with the RHM, how you can help. He also emphasised the importance of cooperation with the Association of Russian and Soviet Graduates, whose members from different countries always help with humanitarian projects. Olga POVALYAEVA, Project Administrator RHM and student at the Higher School of Economics, shared her personal experience of participating in humanitarian projects.
The National Youth Council of Russia was represented by Alina SIMONOVA. She spoke about the project "SDGs Youth Ambassadors of Russia". The programme was launched in 2017; every year, together with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Rosmolodezh and the UN Information Centre, 17 Ambassadors are selected. Many youth leaders who implement socially important projects have become Goodwill Ambassadors. The project is also popular in the CIS countries and the National Council promotes the idea of and competition for the CIS SDG Ambassadors.
The SDGs Youth Ambassadors themselves also spoke at the meeting of the Russian Centre: David DAVYDOV is representing SDG #3, “Good Health and Well-being”. He is a young doctor from North Ossetia, after graduating from the medical academy he started to work in television, but returned to medicine to save people during the coronavirus. Together with his colleagues he is developing a project that aims to identify coronavirus patients by neural network. David presented his developments during the event.
Ruben GAZANCHYAN is Youth Ambassador representing SDG #4, “Quality Education@, a master's graduate at the Institute of International Relations of Pyatigorsk State University, participated in the opening of a UNESCO Chair at his university and worked on the creation of an educational course on the United Nations. In 2020, he was hired by the UN Regional Office in Tajikistan. As a SDG Youth Ambassador, he is actively developing a project to teach Russian language in Tajikistan and develop bilateral student and youth contacts.
The SDGs Youth Ambassaor Veronika YAKOVLEVA representas SDG #8 “Destined Work and Economic Growth”. She is a graduate MGIMO-University and the Financial University under the Government of Russia, heads the Youth Financial League. She runs a project to improve financial literacy among young people, runs a course of webinars on business support in the age of coronavirus, and runs the Russian-EU student conference “Breaking Down Barriers”, to which she invites a large number of major business companies.
Vladislav KAIM, a graduate of MGIMO MFA of Russia from the Republic of Moldova, who in 2020 became a member of the first Youth Advisory Panel on Climate Change established under the United Nations Secretary General, took the floor as part of the event. He spoke about his experience of participating in discussions on the UN climate agenda for a greener and more prosperous future.
The discussion introduced the large-scale Sustainable Development Forum SDGForum, hosted by the MGIMO-University. The Forum was introduced by Anastasia BOROVIK, Chair of the Sustainable Development Forum, and Maxim DUBASOV, member of the organizing committee. SDG Forum is an international case-solving project for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students, high school students, young scientists, experts and representatives of the business community, where participants present their ideas on SDG implementation in various companies. The Forum will take place online in April. Anastasia and Maxim have invited Russian and European students to participate. The Forum provides many new opportunities for participants.
Elena EFREMOVA, Thematic Content Director of students organization AEGEE-Europe, talked about the interaction and cooperation of students from different countries, about online learning, students finding new formats for their own development despite various challenges.
Roman ZAMORIN, Chair of the Organisation of Young Compatriots in the UK, and Diana BORISOVA, Co-Chair of the Youth Club of Compatriots in Cyprus, spoke about the importance of developing intercultural dialogue and cross-cultural communications and cultural aspects when implementing the SDGs, and presented the youth project Futurum.
After the presentations, participants were introduced to the “The lazy person’s guide to Saving the World”: how to use less plastic, use water sparingly, use energy wisely at home, cycle more and much more. The guide includes four levels of participation: "Sofa Superstar", "Household ", "Neighbourhood Nice Guy" and "Exceptional Employee".
The meeting went on to vote for the Goals that were most relevant to students. These became: “Ending Hunger”, “Good Health and Well-being”, “Quality Education”, “Gender Equality”, “Reducing Inequalities”, “Peace and Justice”, “Partnership for the Goals”.
During the meeting, the participants also discussed a common vision for cooperation in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting culminated in the creation of a common recommendations with proposals for cooperation.
Participants suggested the following recommendations:
- Apply the Sustainable Development Goals in daily life, using the UN guidelines;
- Become more involved in society, become a member of student movements, for example such as AEGEE, student councils and clubs;
- to promote the participation of student organisations in national councils and international student platforms, such as the European Youth Forum;
- participate in volunteer projects, within international organisations such as UNICEF or the Russian Humanitarian Mission;
- to promote the SDGs in schools to educated children and youth in the spirit of the SDGs;
- develop cross-cultural communication programmes among students on the different UN Goals, which will promote student unity and mutual understanding;
- hold Sustainable Development Forums for students in different countries and discuss why the implementation of the Goals is important, which Goals are most relevant in a particular country, what is the country experience in implementing the SDGs;
- explore the participation aspect of Generation Z in the implementation of the Goals through online events;
- apply online technology to bring students together in the implementation of the SDGs;
- develop a dialogue to prevent politicisation around the discussion of the SDGs;
- conduct master classes with world-class experts in different areas of the SDGs, e.g. education, volunteering, personal finance, gender equality, climate change, diplomacy, bridging the age gap, etc.
- take part in the MGIMO Forum on Sustainable Development https://sdgforum.ru;
- share information about the SDGs with their friends and family;
- interact with international organizations on achieving the SDGs.
The event was moderated by Lukiana SUVOROVA, Head of the Youth Unit of the Russian Centre.
At the end of the meeting, the participants received a useful gift - the Manual T-kit on working with young people in promoting the SDGs, developed by the Council of Europe and European Commission Partnership Programme in the field of Youth.
At the end of the programme participants were wating for a tasty surprise - what would Tatiana's Day be without delicious sbiten and medovukha, which is traditionally drunk in Russia on Students' Day! The most famous medovukha is made by the rector of Moscow State University Viktor Sadovnichy, but he keeps his recipe a secret. The Russian Centre has prepared its own recipe which must be infused for 10 days, and if you want a quicker result there is a recipe for homemade sbiten, which will take a little over 30 minutes to prepare.
We are enthusiastic about the future and the development of the UN, Think.Act.Create and join efforts to build a better world! See you at the Russia Centre projects!
On 11 February, the Intellectual game "Science" will take place.