Master of Public Administration in Development Practice student Charlotte Thumser organised a workshop titled ‘Connecting for the Future – Mainstreaming the SGDs at UCD’ on 17th February to explore the SDGs. UCD’s student societies, clubs and campaigns might all be inclined towards different spheres, but in one way or another, this workshop showed they share the ability to incorporate and inspire their members to follow sustainable practices.
The aim of the interactive workshop was to get participants to think about how their respective club’s or campaign’s challenges could be tackled in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by all the Member States of the United Nations in 2015. The workshop brought in distinguished speakers from the UCD Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and World Vision Ireland and was coordinated by Davie Philip of cultivate.ie and Cloughjordan EcoVillage in Co. Tipperary.
The workshop was well-represented, with attendees belonging to a variety of student societies and campaigns – GreenCampus UCD, UDC GeogSoc, UCD Mountaineering, UCD Fair Fashion, UCD Fossil Free Campaign, UCD VegCampaign, to name a few. When I spoke with Charlotte, she told me that she was glad about the turn-out. “There was this group of students who wanted to learn more about the SGDs. This is why I decided to do an event to bring in different societies and campaigns to bring in the dimension of SGDs that they could implement to deal with their own challenges,” she added.
The workshop revolved around brainstorming different challenges faced by the different groups and then relating each of those challenges to the 17 SDGs and their 168 smaller targets. The attendees’ involvement contributed to the real buzz of the workshop, with students actively contributing their inputs, both on paper and with one-another. “This is a good way of seeing how our personal challenges fit in with the SDGs. Also, it was interesting to see this framework of goals that encompass so many countries,” said Chris Little, the Co-Founder of Fossil Free UCD, one of the attendees.
As we wrapped up, I asked Davie himself about his insights on how the SGDs could be relevant to university-level student groups. “SDGs are a common language to bridge all the different challenges,” he shared. “It is so important to have some cohesion (when all the societies are working on different things).”
I couldn’t agree more. It was fascinating how so many challenges had overlapping goals to work on. Different as groups might be, there will always be some similarities in the missions we are working for, and collectively working together might be more effective than problem-solving independently. This approach definitely needs more tapping into for its infinite potential.
Mallika Venkatramani – Arts & Lifestyle Editor