A glimpse of SDG Talks Vol. 5's stage at Pekanbaru, Riau. Showing both of the MC and Sherfan, a volunteer at Kutilang Riau.

Standing on the edge of the stage, Sherfan was never out of vigor as he constantly moved his hands and fingers animatedly to the audience. The 25 year old was narrating the words of the speakers at UNDP’s sixth SDGTalks, “Meet the Agents of Change YOUth”.

Sherfan was a volunteer at Kutilang Riau (Komunitas Tuli Lancang Kuning Riau), a youth community which advocates for the rights of people with hearing impairments. With his mission to ensure that no one is left, in a way he embodied the message of UNDP’s SDG talks. The talks explored the issue of youth participation on development and entrepreneurship, featuring UNDP Indonesia’s SDG Specialist, Ainul Djula, local youth activist, Hari Novar, Winner of Youth Co:Lab Indonesia and Asia Pacific, Luh Rika, and Bukalapak’s own, Fajrin Rasyid.

This was the first time the event was held outside Jakarta. It also marked the launch of Riau Youth Network for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The declaration was made by eleven local communities as youth representatives, provincial representatives in partnership with the Tanoto foundation and aimed to encourage youth to  take an active role in helping to  achieve the SDGs.

The SDGs place young people as the foundation of the achievements, as they are the key and baton relays for the upcoming generation. Their involvement will determine the success of the SDGs. More than half of young people in the world today live in Asia-Pacific. They act as entrepreneurs, social activists even in small scale starting from their own local communities. Quoting the words of UN Climate Youth Activist, Greta Thunberg; “You are never too small to make a difference.”

"Youth are more sensitive and aware of the problems that we currently have. This is a great asset, because like SDG # 9, innovation, it comes from a problem,” said the co-founder and CEO of Buka Lapak, Fajrin Rasyid. At a fairly young age, he and his colleagues took the initiative to establish Bukalapak with the aim of empowering small and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. Small and medium businesses have an important role in the country's economic activities, but their influencer are often overlooked by policymakers.

Like Fajrin, both Luh Rika and Hari Novar's success was gained gradually. Both saw a problem  in their local communities. Luh Rika's startup Pandoo, won Youth Co: Lab Indonesia, a joint regional initiative of UNDP and CITI as well as in the Asia Pacific

Summit, focuses on rural development through digital marketing for her hometown tourism sector. Meanwhile Hari Novar’s activism stems from the concerns that he saw in his daily life in Pekanbaru. “I was just eager to do something about the problems in front of me.” he said during the discussion.

There are still many young people who have not yet realized their potential. How big is their role in society and the changes they can cause to the community. When asked by the audience about the government’s role in achieving this goal, UNDP Indonesia's SDG Specialist, Ainul Djula said, "The Sustainable Development Goals are not just a responsibility of the government, but we, as young people, also have a responsibilityand a role in achieving these goals. No one left behind. "

Individuals like Sherfan are making their contribution to the development process in their own way. One thing we can learn from the SDGTalks : it doesn't take much to start making a change. Start small, start locally with what you have and can do. By doing so, you are taking an active role as an agent of change, in order to have a better future, a sustainable one. It’s also important to note that a change can never be made on your own. The Youth SDG network has opened a huge opportunity for youth to join hands in hand to leave no one behind.


Text by Eva Pastora

Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose


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