Thematic Session I: Towards a Global Dialogue on SCP

Good morning, and thank you to the One Planet Network Secretariat for their continued invitation and support for youth to engage in and contribute across OPN’s thematic programmes of work and in the 10YFP partnership.

My name is Ibrahim Tuzuee Abdul-Raheem from Ghana, and the Global Focal Point of the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Youth Platform. The SCP Youth Platform serves as a self-organized space for young people and youth-led member organizations globally to engage in policy-making, design and implementation of SCP processes. Our constituency members participated in the 2022 10YFP Board meeting, contributing to the Global Strategy for SCP, review of SDG 12 at the High-Level Political Forum, and in meetings of the International Resource Panel. 

“…So as to not jeopardize the needs of future generations” is built into the core of the definition of sustainable consumption and production. While during our time here in OECPR and the lead into UNEA-6, when children and youth have been brought up in the negotiations, they have typically been framed as “a vulnerable and at-risk group” – harmed the most by environmental destruction and unsustainable use and management of resources, but distant or passively on the sidelines when it comes to decision-making. 

But as the SCP Youth Platform who have been active partners in contributing to and furthering the goals of One Planet Network, we see young people as patently central to raising the political visibility and ambition of SCP, integrating SCP across all processes of the UN system, and making communication about SCP accessible and relevant to the public. We are pleased that throughout the development and implementation of the Global Strategy on SCP, and looking ahead towards the Global Dialogue on SCP being a multistakeholder space. Let’s talk about where youth come in to elevate the visions of SCP, circular economy models, and further the promotion of zero waste – the latter of which SCP Youth Platform and our sister constituency, the Chemicals and Waste Youth Platform are coordinating youth-led events for the 2nd commemoration of the International Day of Zero Waste, on what global governance needs to make SCP actionable.  

For many youth across the world, such as my community in Tamale, Ghana, sustainable consumption and production processes will be key in creating employment and other opportunities especially in countries in the Global South, where SCP can be a driver of addressing contexts of poverty where the youth unemployment gaps are widening. Environmental protection, particularly regulation around manufacturing and industrial processes, are all-too-frequently decried as “killing jobs” or “making doing business more expensive.” The reality is that SCP as a guiding north star, and the policies and actions that flow from it, are true catalysts for innovation, an area where young people are very well primed to jump in and create. Our own constituency members have built businesses and initiatives around turning textile waste into building insulation for emergency shelters, independently investigating and generating jobs cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and researching plastic alternatives. Youth can better frame SCP as a gateway for innovation, boosting the economies of their countries and lifting the role of local, community-based sustainable businesses and initiatives in the dialogue alongside the big, multinational corporations that tend to dominate in policymaking discussions. 

Next, I’d like to make note of youth’s skill in finding ways to breaking down language barriers, and I don’t just mean translating to different national languages of countries – I mean making dialogues around SCP more reachable, more understandable, more relevant to the communities who will be most affected and most needed in the discussion, but who are often a little intimidated by the “alphabet soup” of acronyms and technical jargon present in policymaking spaces like UNEA, like High Level Political Forum, like Summit of the Future. The SCP Youth Platform has grown to 100s of members of young people, with an age range of around 12-35, all working to carry the torch of SCP in their countries and communities and link SCP to existing topics that they work within – in my case, this is through my organization Rescue Mission International that ties the most important social and environmental issues facing communities in Ghana and Africa to SCP as a central solution. When we talk today about partners in 10YFP and beyond, let’s recognize the urgently needed role of youth as partners, too. 

I am pleased to announce that the SCP Youth Platform is currently working with the OPN Secretariat, with much appreciation to Jorge, Veronika and Manon, to further build a long-term strategic partnership and expand youth-led initiatives within OPN. Development of an MOU is underway with a goal of concrete activities to be planned for 2024-25 by early spring of this year. 

Thank you again for having me, and I look forward to our discussions throughout the day, as well as working with all of you on youth-led, youth-responsive transitions to our shared goal of sustainable consumption and production.