A few hours removed from the wrap-up of the 2nd SDSN Mediterranean Conference, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate all current members of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Youth Network on doing a wonderful job to prepare and cover our session on “The Role of Youth for Sustainable Development“, not just the keynote speakers (Dario Bettaccini, Fulya Kundaklar, Şila Temizel) but many others who could not be present and whom I’d like to thank heartily for working tirelessly on the launch of this initiative and allowing me to be part of such a wonderful team for the foreseeable future, including (but not limited to) Siamak S Loni, Tim Dobermann, Michelle Huang, Melissa Peppin, and Ian Lieblich.
I also look forward to engage with executives and leaders of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and in particular those who attended the Conference (Maria Cortés-Puch, Holger Kuhle and Achim Dobermann), so as to make sure that SDSN Youth and SDSN work in close cooperation to support the adoption of a bold post-2015 agenda in New York later this year.
Finally, I applaud the organizing team from the Università degli Studi di Siena, who backed the idea of a session on youth involvement in the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals and accomplished the feat of managing a perfectly successful event here in Siena.
P.S.: As SDSN Mediterranean unveiled the outcome document of the Conference, the “Siena Declaration for Sustainable Mediterranean Agriculture and Food Systems”, I welcome the inclusion of many poignant references to the role of Universities and Youth for sustainable development, which -I hope- is also due to the glaring success of our session on the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Youth Network’s proposal:
“4. UNIVERSITIES can play a pivotal role in tackling MED Agri-Food challenges not only through research and promotion of solutions, but also through education. They should provide students with sustainable development knowledge and skills useful for promoting principles and tools of integrated sustainability, awareness on the meaning and role of SDGs and SD research and execution. These skills are relevant also in the labour market. This last aspect is of particular importance for the Mediterranean area and, above all, for Mediterranean Agri-Food businesses (especially the smallest ones), which often suffer from a serious lack in expertise and knowledge on sustainable development principles and practices.
5. STUDENTS should be at the core of future sustainable development initiatives. Students at any stage of their career should be made aware of the role of Sustainable Development principles and tools, including SDGs, to tackle Mediterranean environmental and societal challenges.
6. BUSINESS world should adopt a different approach to sustainability. Recent data and statistics highlighted once again the leading role of the Agri-Food sector in Mediterranean economies, as well as on youth employment. To deal with new needs and contribute to implement SDGs, however, businesses should take advantage of the opportunities given by research on sustainable agriculture and business models.”