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A Report From The Youth Summit.

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Pictured: Johnny Sheehan, the chair of Comhlámh makes his presence felt at the Youth Summit.

Leo Gilmartin is currently on work placement in Comhlámh. He has been on placement since the end of September and is a third year student from Maynooth University studying Community & Youth Work. Here he talks about the Youth Summit event in the RDS.

I have been involved with youth work since my early teens with a youth club called Celtic Youth Bray. Here I learned the value of leadership and global citizenship. It is a youth club that places Development Education at the core of its practice. Seeing the power of development education has had a huge effect on me personally and professionally, as a youth worker.

Last Thursday I attended the “Change the World” Youth Summit on the Global Sustainable Development Goals in the RDS. The event was organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland and Concern Worldwide. The event takes place as part of celebrations of NYCI One World Week 2015. One World Week is a nationwide week of youth-led awareness raising, education and action on local and global justice issues which takes place each year to coincide with Universal Children’s Day. Over 400 young people attended this year’s youth summit from schools, youth groups and various organisations across the country. It was a great opportunity for young people to be introduced to the goals but to also have their opinions heard around their impressions and ideas surrounding the new 17 Global Goals.

The day began with inputs from Brian Hayes MEP, who spoke about the role the EU Parliament are taking in advancing the SDGs. Kevin Kelly from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade spoke about this year’s 60th Anniversary of Ireland being a member of the UN, providing a picture of the actual telegram that was sent to Dublin on the night Ireland was voted in and the story that followed that historic night. Ireland’s first ever UN Youth Delegates, Orla Murphy and Eoin O’Liathain, spoke of their experience in New York

The day was broken down into the 5 P’s; people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The 5 P’s is a way that the 17 Goals have been divided in to perhaps more manageable and workable way. Presentations from young people from various organisations took on each of the P’s in their own way, relating to the work that they have been doing. After each presentation, each table of young people discussed how they felt about the messages coming from the presentations and what do these goals mean for Ireland and also Europe in meeting these goals.

There were some excellent and powerful messages from young people who are passionate about social justice issues and bringing about change.

Afri gave a powerful speech on Peace, on the need for a radical change of emphasis on the global money being spent on military security and not on human security.

Eco-Unesco spoke about their work on Planet, where young people are campaigning to change the Dublin Bike Scheme so that young people can access it. Currently a credit card is needed to access the scheme.

The young people who are involved with the Millennium Youth project spoke on Participation. How it is important for all to do their bit in reaching the goals and to move forward together into making change happen.

One inspiring moment of the day came from a young man from Mayo who made a comment to the panel of various NGOs and political bodies about goal number 14, life below water. He spoke about the fact that right now the world’s second largest super trawler in the world, the MFV Margiris, is fishing off the West Coast of Ireland. Its net’s are bigger than a football pitch that can process over 250 tonnes of fish a day. So imagine the damage that is causing our fish supplies and also the Irish Sea. That this is happening right and that our Government is allowing it to happen and continue.

So how can this goal be reached if we allow things like this to exist?

Overall it was a fun and enjoyable event and a great day hearing from so many inspiring and passionate young people from all over Ireland talk about social justice issues and the opinions that they have on the SDGs. It has definitely given me hope that this can and will lead on to big things for the next 15 years of the SDGS.

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