17 stories that represent young changemakers’ commitment to the SDGs

Journalism has many spaces, affirmed the writer Antonio Tabucchi. And he was not without reason in that it serves to calm and provoke at the same time.

And in his words we find the spirit that, this same summer, gave birth to ENCLAVE ODS. With the support of the “la Caixa” Foundation, the opportunity arose to portray the stories of seventeen engaged young men with the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The enthusiasm of each one of them, together with our own and the urgency to adequately and effectively communicate these objectives, makes us meet yesterday, at the Young Leadership for the SDGs forum, with a message loaded with value. Because their stories not only show the commitment of a generation, but that changes are possible and that we can all contribute to it.

Globalization has brought all countries together for the first time in the face of inequality

María de Paz, who summarizes Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, reducing inequalities with her biography, highlights the importance of involvement in the creation of these goals. Because we cannot forget that it is the first time in more than two billion years that at the international level countries have agreed to fight inequalities.

De Paz points out to capitalism and globalization as the two main causes of injustice, but identifies two positive side effects. One of them refers to the global economic rebalancing: the center of power moves “from the United States and Europe to the Asian countries,” he explains.

That second positive part, for her, lies in the fact that “globalization has made all countries come together for the first time in the face of inequality, the great challenge of our time.”

However, there are still great challenges to complete a true joint commitment towards the achievement of the SDGs and transfer the pressure for their fulfillment, as highlighted by Alexandra Mitjans (SDG 17 on partnerships to achieve the goals).

Media indicates that we are 60 years behind in compliance with the 17 SDGs. And he believes that we will not achieve it “until 2094, unless we put all our effort into achieving the exceptional.” In addition, he adds that perhaps the key is in what he likes to call “unlikely alliances.”

But Marta Bautista (SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions) also speaks of that individual effort. He does it through a parable: the story of a town in the middle of a valley where the mountains obstruct the sun until, after several generations working with a common goal, reality changes.

Through this story, he shows that people are needed to advance. Those who, although they do not fight only for one of these objectives, use the maximum of their individual potential – in the way they believe most effectively – in those goals in which they can contribute the most. At least, this is what Santiago Jiménez emphasizes (SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities).

We are 60 years behind in meeting the SDGs; will not be achieved until 2094

Education issue

When talking to the young entrepreneurs who are part of the forum Young leadership for the SDGs, education always appears as a necessary tool. But, as Irene Larriba reminds (SDG 4 on quality education), it cannot become an argument to postpone changes.

Larriba believes that whenever there is a problem, we hear that the solution is education. For her, we all educate in our homes And to think that something will have an effect only in the future is reductionist, because, he explains, “today we can influence everyone, children and adults to generate that impact as soon as possible.”

Climate change undoubtedly becomes a particularly enlightening issue thanks to the explanations of Jorge Moreno (SDG 13 on climate action) and Pablo Rodríguez (SDG 14 on Underwater life). Both appeal to everyone’s responsibility, but also to that of the political class.

“There is a vision that a tree is the solution to everything and there are many cases in which planting more is harmful,” explains Moreno. Who considers that it is not desirable to alter ecosystems.

On the other hand, Rodríguez says that politicians who deny climate change today do so knowing that they are lying.

Something that surprises all these young people from the beginning in their charisma. And they are full of light. And, like Victoria Santiago (SDG 1 on the end of poverty) or Ana Carrasco (SDG 5 on gender equality), they are authentic role models.

For Santiago, it is exciting when a person changes his behavior, especially if he does so “because he understands that he was not on the right track.” For her part, Carrasco is aware that her example can open the way for other women in her profession.

The SDGs remain poorly understood in an often narcissistic and valueless society

It is not only that it is a generation of leaders more accustomed to audiovisual, it is that many of them did not need light or spotlight to be photographed.

Scientific talents such as Natalia López (SDG 3 on health and well-being), Aleix Megías (SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure) or Gonzalo Murillo (SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy). Profiles that investigated diseases -such as Parkinson’s-, space or residual energy.

The youngest of them is very categorical on the issue of non-recycled plastics, Luis Esteban (SDG 12 on responsible production and consumption). Others, devoted and accustomed to supporting and mitigating the pain of others with extraordinary maturity, such as Esperanza Vera (SDG 2 on zero hunger), reminds us that “the street kills” and homelessness is still a reality in our country.

Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros (SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation) talks about the development opportunities generated by solving the water problem. And how, to the extent that these are solved, “impacts on equality and education,” he explains.

Most of these young leaders agree that the SDGs remain poorly understood – despite their importance – in an often narcissistic and valueless society.

And Laura Reboul (SDG 15 on the life of terrestrial ecosystems) proposes a solution: find a way to enjoy changes, not despite them. Because “what is not fun is not sustainable”, he emphasizes. So who knows perhaps putting skin to the SDGs serves for more than we think.


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