Committing to the SDGs was an interesting topic of the CTAUN conference. Getting to know about the panelists was very interesting based on different reasons. One of the main reasons, Committing to SDGs panelists were interesting was because they are young, enthusiastic, energetic, and from different nations. All the speakers are currently based in the US and are thinking about different ways to raise awareness about the SDGs and to reach out to as many people as possible in different regions of the world. There were brilliant examples of leading youth initiating activities that engage the minds of people and advocate for the SDGs.
Several interesting speakers presented their inspirational stories during the afternoon roundtable at CTAUN. Moderator of the session was Rohit Pothukuchi, the founder and president of Verdentum. Verdentum meaning “green moment” is a non-profit social network that connects students around the world in their attempts to find solutions to global issues. In this unique initiative students get in touch with policy makers on different levels – UN officials, governors. Students are given a significant problem to think and work on. They connect with peers from other countries who sometimes live in remote regions. These international teams collaborate and communicate through videoconferences. What is unique and especially important about the idea of Verdentum is that after finding solutions to the problem pupils are encouraged to take real actions and to be part of something global e.g. to clean their local lake or reducing their school’s energy consumption by5 %. In case you want to learn more about this great idea, visit http://www.verdentum.org/
Mark Wise presented another amazing idea. Currently Wise is the K-12 Supervisor for Curriculum and Instruction for West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. This project is called the Global Challenge. It is a five-day intense and student-led activity for 8th-graders. Students are given one school week to solve a global challenge and to develop an action plan which should be presented to UN officials and other institutions. During these five days students work independently in teams and control their class time. No teachers are involved in the project. Students have four days to create their plan and a day to prepare its presentation. During this week students are in charge of their own learning. Classes stop and they focus their efforts on only one issue. Wise shared that students are excited to be empowered and to explore their ideas. In the end of this week students’work is scored but not graded. The winning team presents its action plan to experts in the country. More importantly, the district uses the data it collects during the implementation of this project in order to assess the district’s efforts to prepare kids.
Tonya Muro who is the new Executive Director of iEarn - USA spoke about the importance of connecting people around the world and uniting their efforts for a common goal. You can learnmore about the organization by visiting its website https://iearn.org/. Currently iEarn is made up of more than 30,000 schools and youth organizations from 140 countries.
Maxine Davila, the founder of 1+One: Networking for a Better World shared her experience from working with marginalized members of society mainly Puerto Ricans from New York. She mentioned the lack of information about global issues in such groups. Therefore, she created a newsletter which raises the awareness about the SDGs.
Conferences such as CTAUN definitely improve the advocacy for the SDGs because educators are the ones who can further spread the knowledge and educate other people, work with them and try to commit to SDGs. Educators are some of the agents of change who can work with people in order to implement the goals and turn them into practical actions. These actions could be carried out by three elements, first - individuals, second - communication and the third would be multiplying and carrying on such communications about SDGs at a local, national and then global level.