by Jide Adebayo
As I sat in the United Nations’ regional headquarters in Bangkok during the Global Peace Youth Exchange (GPYE) Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I began to reflect on some of the problems in my home country that demand immediate attention. Miami Beach, a slice of paradise and palm trees drizzled amidst the backdrop of a city built on travel, tourism, and real estate. However, despite the sunshine and great weather, whispers cast a shadow of a dark future for the city. Property values are projected to fall as sea levels rise over the next few years. Within this century alone, the city of Miami Beach is forecasted to be completely underwater. What does this mean for residents like myself? What does this mean for the economy of Miami?
Delegates representing more than 12 countries gathered in Bangkok to identify solutions to issues that affect us all such as sea level rise, droughts, hunger, and poverty, or pollution. We were empowered to explore our roles as global citizens and acknowledge our moral responsibility to actively participate in contributing to human and societal progress. Contemporary threats stretch far beyond the borders mapped out throughout history.
Unfortunately, there is not enough unity, empathy, and motivation to understand the needs, struggles, and aspirations of one’s fellow man or woman. This is compounded further by the choice to focus on the petty differences that color each and every one of us. But this should not nor does it have to be the case.
For one week, I ate, lived, traveled, and worked with people who at first were complete strangers from different cultures, beliefs, and races as well. These were people who fundamentally did not understand the background from which I was coming (shout out to Memphis, TN and my Naija family). However, from the first day, we shared a similarity and that is our concern for our world, the need to seek a higher purpose and a global mindset. Peace is an absolute preliminary in achieving the SDGs and the hope for peace and understanding among human beings is no longer a whimsical ambition. With the active participation of the youth, it has become a necessity and obligation to foster our survival as the human race—a Darwinism of sorts.
Climate change is real. Global warming is real. It is not only Miami Beach’s piece of paradise that is at stake. The threat towards our planet and its inhabitants is real. For the world that has given us so much life, how can we not bear the responsibility of sustaining that generosity for future generations to come?
I strongly believe that youth are uniquely capable of fostering sustainable development that can survive from one generation to the next. Therefore, we must continue to empower, educate, and motivate the youth to dream big and pursue those dreams with courage. The Global Peace Foundation has pioneered this effort through the GPYE as well as other initiatives.
Blog submitted by Jide Adebayo
GPYE Thailand 2016, USA Delegate