SDG Youth Ambassadors Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic
SDG Youth Ambassadors is an initiative of the UN System in the Kyrgyz Republic and the State Agency for Youth under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic aimed at engaging young activists of the country in raising awareness about the SDGs among different population groups. This initiative also aims at building the capacity of young people to promote the ideas of sustainable development. It was launched in summer 2019 in the Kyrgyz Republic and continues now. It is implemented by several UN agencies jointly with the State Agency for Youth and targets youth, mainly university and high school students, youth and volunteer organisations and youth community groups across the country.
The objective of the practice is to raise the awareness of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic on the SDGs with the hypothesis that the more people know about the SDGs, the more they understand their role in achieving sustainable development globally and locally. It is designed so that youth activists receive further training on sustainable development and the SDGs and then spread the knowledge in peer-to-peer formats, thereby finding creative ways to deliver important SDG messaging to peer audiences, which are also localized to Kyrgyzstani context. It is also expected that the initiative strengthens engagement of youth as one of the key stakeholders and key population groups of the Kyrgyz Republic into the 2030 Agenda implementation, follow-up and review processes in the country.
The practice contributes directly to the implementation of SDG target 4.7 on education for sustainable development through participants spreading knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles. It has also contributed to the follow-up and review process, as SDG Youth Ambassadors have been engaged in the VNR 2020 process in the Kyrgyz Republic.
In the first round (2019-2020), 34 young activists from the Kyrgyz Republic aged 18-27 were selected out of almost 700 applications to represent all 17 SDGs (2 for each SDG). They have improved their skills in communication, advocacy, social project management and fundraising through 2 dedicated capacity building sessions. Throughout 9 months, the Ambassadors implemented their own events with methodological and in-kind (promo items) support from the UN and the State Agency for Youth. The multi-agency organising team was in charge of planning capacity building events, monitoring, collecting feedback and coordinating participants as a group. A dedicated part-time coordinator consultant was hired to support the project. The cost of the first round totalled at approximately USD 24K. In the second round (2020-2021), the project was split into two phases - 1) SDG Academy and 2) SDG Youth Ambassadors). SDG Academy is targeted at enhanced capacity building of 20 young activists aged 18-24 selected from 300 applications to provide them with necessary skills and knowledge to promote sustainable development and the SDGs. It includes a series of learning sessions on the 2030 Agenda, a series of thematic sessions on UN agencies’ mandates, a dedicated soft skills training and several major homework tasks like conducting an event on the SDGs and elaborating a plan of action to promote the SDGs. For the 2nd phase, the 5 best out of 20 will be selected as SDG Youth Ambassadors covering all goals (each concentrating on one of the 5P dimensions of sustainable development) for a period of 6 month to implement their plans of action, on either UNV or internship contracts with the UN System. The budget of the second round is expected to total at around USD 40K.
54 young participants now have strong knowledge on the 2030 Agenda (SDGs, their principles, mechanisms, key stakeholders and processes) and increased capacity in communications and advocacy for sustainable development, creating and managing social projects, fundraising, building partnerships and managing events. In 2019-2020 the SDG Youth Ambassadors spread awareness of the SDGs among the population of the Kyrgyz Republic by conducting 173 events reaching 12 859 people in the country.These events included info sessions, interactive lectures, online flash mobs, workshops, trainings, cleanups, forums, interactive games, quizzes, masterclasses, social media challenges, debates, fairs, festivals. Due to their activity and potential, the Ambassadors were noticed by the key government officials in charge of the VNR 2020 process and were invited to participate in multiple VNR consultations, VNR presentation to regional governments and one of the SDG Ambassadors was also part of the official delegation and presentation of Kyrgyzstani VNR at HLPF in July 2020.
The project was enabled by the dedication of the organising team at the UN consisting of multiple UN agencies under overall leadership of UN Resident Coordinator. Other enablers were youth participant’s motivation and high potential to contribute to the 2030 Agenda; State Agency for Youth’s dedication to also contribute to the SDGs; availability of minimum financial resources from the UN system, as well as the VNR 2020 process led by the Government. Constraints were: unavailability of sufficient funding to meet project’s ambition, COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it brought to organisation of public events.
Trained SDG Youth Ambassadors and SDG Academy participants are equipped with necessary knowledge on the 2030 Agenda and skills in promoting sustainable development, which they take forward in their activity outside the SDG Youth Ambassadors programme. The project can be easily replicated in other country/regional/local contexts and the organising team is planning to produce several outputs documenting the experience to share best practices with the wider audience.
COVID-19 pandemic hit the Kyrgyz Republic in the most active period of the SDG Youth Ambassadors programme, thus the participants had to quickly adjust their events to alternative modes. Eventually the transition to online mode was successful and the participants hosted 12 events online reaching 512 people, focusing some of the events on how youth can tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Deliverables & Timeline
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Nation-wide and in administrative regions of the Kyrgyz Republic, including Osh region, Talas region, Issyk-Kul region