Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

The SDGs -It is Up to You(th)!

September 26, 2020 · No Comments · SDGs, Uncategorized

Blog 1: It’s up to YOU(TH)!

Although the only time you’ll hear about them is at a charity event or a specialized course, sustainable development goals are an important subject and should be a topic of conversation for all ages in the U.S. The U.N. has coined the phrase “Sustainable Development Goals” as “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”( These goals are meant to address the challenges that we face as a global population, and include everything from climate change to inequality, although there are 17 “goals” total. With the youth population of the world being at its largest that it has ever been, making up an entire quarter of humanity, ( ), they certainly have the numbers to make a difference. Youth are not only able to be leaders in this movement, but are pivotal in seeing the changes that we hope to see to make a difference for future generations.

Youth in development: 'We're tired of being the topic, not the leaders' | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian

(Photo obtained from

 One of the 17 sustainable development goals is to “help educate children in your community” (, which is ironic, because educating our youth is what is necessary to begin making a dent on these monumental problems we’re working to rectify. The youth of this generation are the future: the ones who have truly will have the biggest impact on what this planet looks like in 50 years. This truth is concerning though, given that an incredible almost 260 million children were out of school in 2018 ( , which of course, means a less educated youth that we must leave our planet to. But then again, the education they are typically receiving isn’t inclusive enough of this information for youth to make the changes that we hope to progressively see. I certainly don’t remember learning much, if anything, about the 17 Sustainable Goals in school. Do you? The fact that this information is not often taught as part of a regular curriculum in the United States is part of the problem that needs to be spotlighted and changed.

  Another reason why it is clear that youth not only can be, but must be, leaders in this Sustainable Goals movement is because they are already on track to be more bold and actionable towards the movement than ever before, and we as a population mustn’t let that momentum stop. An example would be the incredible, knowledgeable, and TIME Magazine’s 2019 “Person of the Year” Greta Thunberg (pictured below).

Photo obtained from: Climate activist Greta Thunberg photographed on the shore in Lisbon, Portugal December 4, 2019Photograph by Evgenia Arbugaeva for TIME

Beginning by skipping school to protest the lack of action being taken to reduce climate change, Greta has gotten the world’s attention about how important it is for us as a country to recognize that climate change is not an “opinion”, but science. If the world’s temperature continues to rise at its current rate, around 120 million people will soon be pushed into poverty by drought by the year 2030 ( ). Young Greta inspired over 4 million people to join her global climate strike in September, and is expected to continue to inspire children and adults alike all over the globe to not just pay attention to climate change, but make an effort to do something about the looming danger that it brings before it is too late.


Unfortunately, however, youth in our country are frequently excluded from decision making. From the simple question of “What will we have for dinner?” to the complex question of “How do we end world hunger?” children’s voices are for the most part completely ignored. The adult-centric policy of the United States typically relies heavily on the belief that children are meant to be “seen, but not heard”. But then we have to ask ourselves…why is that? Is it fair, or does it even make sense, considering that they will inherit whatever of the planet we leave to them? Is it wise to not consider their voice, when they will inevitably have to endure the awful effects of climate change that we as adults are worsening day-by-day? To me, the answer is clear: it isn’t- we are repetitively undervaluing the voice and potential of our youth. Our youth possess everything that is needed to be a strong, influential powerhouse already in them. The energy, passion, and creativity that is needed for change, but that adults tend to lack more and more of as they get older. They have the ability to create out of the box solutions, and think about problems in critical ways. However, that can only get them so far, can’t it? There is a reason they are expected to be supervised until the age of 18- they need us adults too. But not to do these things for them, of course not. Most are capable little humans- but the youth that will be the change of this Earth need our support and our solidarity. We need to be there to help them get the education they need about all of the sustainable goals, from gender equality to avoiding wasting water. If we as their providers, their caretakers, and their mentors do not take the initiative to involve them in this extremely important discussions about the big impacts these goals are having and what steps we as humans can do to make a difference, then who will? It is up to them to lead this next generation into change, this is true, but while we as adults are still on this Earth, it is up to us to lift them up as high as we can, and give them that gentle push that they need to make that world of difference-literally.

Give young people a voice on global issues | Child in the City

Photo obtained from:



There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Skip to toolbar