This article was first published on the Graduate Union of the University of Melbourne website.
Since their adoption in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals have meant that each country has a social and civic responsibility to ensure protection of the planet, an end to poverty and prosperity for all. It’s about equality. It’s about justice, and most importantly it’s about progressing the agenda for sustainable development.
While everyone is encouraged to do their part, from government to communities, youth play just as important a role in engineering a more sustainable future around the world. Goal 16 which is partnerships for the goals, urges links between our governments, private corporations and society. The Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) on the SDGs is one such entity that aims to build greater capacity and create a better environment for youth philanthropic organisations to support the implementation of the SDGs by creating opportunities for youth to learn and make connections with international leaders by building strong partnerships between youth philanthropic organisations, the UN, government bodies, media, and academia.
At regional and national levels, the Initiative also facilitates the launch of a range of activities including the Youth Philanthropy Forum on the SDGs that will encourage youth philanthropic engagement in developing innovative and transformative solutions to achieving the SDGs. The workshop will be divided into multiple segments to engage with the 17 areas of the SDGs and the means of involvement in implementation, reporting and monitoring.
Emmanuel Marfo, co-founder of the Global Alliance for Development Foundation (GADeF), believes that youth empowerment is imperative. Mentoring can be transformational for youth and to help grow the capacity and the capability for building supports and funding, as well as specific budget allocation for youth philanthropy development and sustainability by corporate sectors, governments and international development agencies.
The foundation for the organisation was laid in its first five years. “I had a challenge of getting technical assistance and mentors to support and shape my skills and expertise,” said Marfo. “A setback to the organization’s objective of building institutional capacity was the perception that government is solely responsible for solving every problem in the communities and the ability to mobilize resources locally. Through small grants and technical assistance among community foundations, youth-led organisations and similar philanthropic organizations, we were able to enable them to build social capital and enhance local decision-making processes in their communities.”
Marfo says he also encountered a challenge in letting the youth believe that they can influence decisions among policy makers, governments, international development agencies and corporate agencies. With the little opportunity he had to participate in learning about youth development, social enterprise and community development through workshops, conference and seminars, he was able to overcome some of these challenges. “These empowerment opportunities help young people engage in a process in which they can identify potential issues and grantees; secure monetary and in-kind donations; and evaluate outcomes. I believe though young people need mentors and connections to help them find solutions in their communities, they need to be empowered to understand partnerships for sustainable development,” he said.
Marfo, who is currently working on his thesis on Youth Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship for MSc Development Management at Kwame University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, was inspired by his entrepreneurship lecturer, Dr Ralph Nyadu-Addo. During his lectures he would say ‘the solutions are out there’. Inspired and motivated, Marfo took the initiative to start looking for these solutions. He became determined to build a team of change-makers and philanthropists, and find solutions to challenges faced by youth and communities in his village.
“After we identified challenges of the youth in pursuit of their dreams and to make their communities a better place, I decided to build an alliance to support youth and young women to find sustainable solutions starting from one community. This in turn would expand to other communities, nations and youth-led global impact and transformation. I encountered many challenges in sharing the vision with some youths and adults,” he said.
“Along with co-founders Peter Nsiah, Gifty Mensah and Lord Nkrumah, we envisioned an organisation that would empower youth, young social entrepreneurs and women in local communities to address the social, environmental, political and economic issues that they face locally and globally, by creating a strong local network that worked with grassroots youth philanthropists and social entrepreneurs worldwide. With the co-founders, we also wanted to provide young people the opportunity to channel their energy toward becoming involved in both their local and global communities.”
Graduate House is proud to announce its partnership with Youth Philanthropy Initiative, assisting wherever possible with the progression of the SDGs.
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