Clinton Moore, Local Pathways Fellow (Melbourne, Australia), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative
Throughout my Local Pathways Fellowship journey, I kept a document that tallied my notes from webinars, courses, workshops, and general thoughts about the SDGs or my project idea. The first entry is dated April 2017:
The SDGs respond to the recognition of our shared responsibility to current and future generations to be thoughtful stewards of our world.
Likely, it was a note from Jeffrey Sachs’ online welcome to the inaugural cohort of Local Pathways Fellows. Almost one year later and armed with the experiences and platform the Fellowship has given us, it is perhaps even more inspiring and mobilizing to return and read that document. Now, we are even more part of the movement to realize the SDGs.
Over the year, the Fellowship provided me with an excellent training, engagement, and networking platform to critically understand the SDGs, and chart a course for action in Melbourne and beyond. I was invited to speak at events such as the New Urban Agenda Conference in Melbourne in May 2017. It was, however, the opportunities I sought that made the most of the Fellowship. These included: speaking to national local government bodies, engaging with classes of high school students, seeking out opportunities at my workplace, or introducing myself to politicians or United Nations officials. The Fellowship gave me an immediate and credible voice.
My SDG focal area was Target 11.7, in essence, to make public spaces safe, inclusive, accessible, and sustainable for all. The project I have conceptualized is an education and audit program for young people based on these four pillars, to arm them with a new urban lens, understanding, and appreciation of Melbourne’s public spaces. My belief is that, in line with the ‘Cities for all’ philosophy, you don’t have to be an urban professional to understand, advocate for, or demand better public spaces. Everybody has an opinion about their city’s public spaces, and everybody experiences them differently. Equipping young people with a basic, thoughtful, and well-rounded appreciation of public spaces can hopefully stimulate interest, advocacy, and investment.
The Fellowship culminated in joining the SDSN Youth Delegation for the World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For over a decade it was my dream to attend a WUF, just as others dream of attending a World Cup or Olympics. Fellows were heavily active in the programme, speaking at two side events, and I participated as a panelist at the Pre-Children and Youth Assembly. As an urbanist with a stack of business cards, a message and a Fellowship to promote, it was perhaps the most intense, thrilling, and rewarding event I have ever attended.
I have talked with hundreds of young people across the world over the last year about the SDGs and sustainable development. Sometimes, I have 30 seconds or 30 minutes to sell a message. That message is always grounded in a ‘thoughtful stewardship’ of our world, in which I encourage critical, aspirational thinking and agency. A simple starting point is where one might be in 2030, and what kind of world do they want to be in.
I know that when 2030 comes, I will look back at the Local Pathways Fellowship as a seminal time in my life. We, especially the SDSN Youth Delegation at WUF9, will be able to say we were at the forefront of realizing the SDGs.