Advancing Agenda 2030 Together: Partnerships and Youth - Mission Possible holds 5th annual Agents of Change Conference in New York
The Agents of Change Conference was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from February 5th to 7th. The annual event welcomed thirty students and teachers who completed the Mission Possible program to participate in educational sessions and present the results of projects they have implemented that focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Hitha and Adya, two students from Vidyashilp Academy in Bangalore, India, participated in the conference. Their team’s project addressed SDGs 3, 4, and 6. “We are working to raise and provide funds for the school to start producing biodegradable pencils, and when they’re planted, they’ll turn into a sapling,” they explained.
This year’s conference focused on the critical role of partnerships in achieving Agenda 2030 and featured the largest group of participants since the inception of the conference. Students had the opportunity to learn from a range of development actors including Member States, UN entities, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions.
“No one will automatically invite you to take a seat and share your opinion. You have to be ready to take this initiative… Speak to your peers, and organize,” said Nicholas Ceolin, from the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
Throughout the conference, groups focused on several key questions: What makes a great partnership? How does the UN partner with young people? and How might we enhance our ability to partner in order to make our Mission Possible projects more sustainable?
“Once you move on to something else, it falls apart unless you have brought together all the stakeholders needed to keep the initiative moving,” shared Shannon O’Shea of UNICEF’s Public Partnerships Division, on the importance of partnerships in any project. Other speakers included representatives from WFUNA, the UN Programme on Youth Unit, and high school students from Avenues: The World School, who facilitated a design thinking challenge.
The program also included site visits to further students’ understanding of the UN and observe local examples of partnerships that support the Sustainable Development Agenda. At the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, students engaged with Counselor Na on global citizenship education and on Korea’s evolving relationship with and contribution to the UN. On Governors Island, they engaged with The Billion Oyster project, a citizen science project that partners with schools and restaurants with the goal of restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor by 2035.
The conference concluded with project presentations by eight student teams, which addressed 11 of the 17 SDGs, and raised over USD 25,000 in funds. Projects focused on combating climate change through the revival of lakes and marine habitats and recycling gently used clothing items. Other projects enhanced the infrastructure of government schools and children’s shelters, and created structures that would help project stakeholders create income generation activities, such as Hitha and Adya’s pencil into sapling project. Students learned the intricacies of crowd funding, the importance of consulting communities before starting a project, and most importantly, teamwork and mutual respect.