The COVID-19 pandemic should not distract us from the ambition of attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was said by the UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen to Zimbabwean youth under the The Sxoll Transformational Leadership Programme.
Delivering an online lecture to the youth on 18th June 2020, Prof. Gijzen said the COVID-19 pandemic shows the urgent need to implement the SDGs which he said are interconnected.
He called for multilateral cooperation saying individual institutions, governments or development partners cannot solve the world’s challenges alone. Sharing some insights on how Africa can achieve sustainable development, the Regional Director said Africa can learn from the Asian tigers and unleash “the African lions”.
There is need for Africa to consistently invest in education, human resource capacity, research and development, science, technology and innovation
Investments in these areas would provide solutions to the world’s problems including pandemics such as COVID-19.
Prof. Gijzen said there is need for transformational shifts in energy, water, food and social sectors.
We need new energy, new water, new food, new mind-sets and social transformation. We need a long term vision of a sustainable world in which, by mid-century, 9 billion people can live a decent quality of life within the planet’s limited resources.
The Regional Director urged the youth to imagine the sustainable future they want and work towards it. A sustainable future with green buildings, green economy, green cities, eco-cities and sustainable cities.
The UN Communication Group in Zimbabwe in partnership with TheSpace, a youth SDGs advocacy team have been grooming young Zimbabweans on international development and leadership in an effort to galvanize their communities to strive for solutions to their development challenges. Prof. Gijzen’s lecture was organized within this context and brought the youngsters up to speed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Goals.