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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not just an Indonesian issue but a global one and everyone - including young people - from any country can collectively contribute towards achieving them.

That’s the sentiment expressed by 20-year-old Galuh Widyastuti, following her recent participation at the YES4SDG Youth Summit held in Bangkok from October 10 to 14.

The second year University of Indonesia student, who hails from Salatiga in Central Java, has been an ambassador for The Fascinating World of Forestry (TFWoF) since April this year.

TFWoF, which is run by APRIL Group, is an educational programme that aims to educate students about forestry, the environment, sustainability and community development.

As TFWoW ambassador, Galuh is responsible to help spread awareness about forestry education both through participation in TFWoF programmes and through social media.

The YES4SDG Summit saw around 100 young people aged from 18 to 25 from around the region participating in a symposium at the United Nations building in Bangkok, presenting ideas or suggestions on how they would best tackle one or more of the SDGs.

Galuh says it is important for young people to attend such events which allow them to look beyond their own countries and gain a global perspective.

“I think it reminds us that we are not only a country’s citizens, but that we are global citizens.

“Achieving SDGs are not only a country’s problem, a person’s problem or a community’s problem – it is our problem and so we have to solve it together,” she says.

She adds: “Through these events, we can expand our professional connections and networks, and also make friends.”

During the programme, the youth delegates visited landmarks of interest in Bangkok, including Wat Arun, as well as higher education institutions, the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center.

“It was such an exciting and very insightful experience. Getting to make new friends, know about new cultures and also points of view – every single aspect (of the trip) was just very unique and interesting,” Galuh shares.

Galuh was named “Best Delegate” by the summit’s organizing committee (an honour that she says was a complete surprise) for proposing an idea for a waste management system to be implemented in Indonesia.

“For me personally, my concern is the environment so I proposed the idea for the waste disposal system which is really needed in and relevant to Indonesia,” Galuh says, adding that it supports SDG Number 13.

“I think youth can contribute in every aspect (of the SDGs), although it is probably easier for them to contribute towards achieving a sustainable environment, gender equality and zero hunger, and in reducing poverty,” she says.

Galuh maintains that young people have the greatest power and potential to take care of the world as future leaders, adding that young people possess plenty of creativity when it comes to thinking up ideas to tackle the SDGs.

Of course, the SDGs can only be realised through collaboration between many, including governments, individuals and organisations.

“For that reason, I’m really grateful to APRIL for being so supportive towards the SDGs and youth in Indonesia. Many people have good intentions but they have many limitations with no facilities or support, but APRIL is willing to help.

“Not only does APRIL practice sustainable management in its production, the company also runs great community development programs such as training farmers to better manage their plantations, and training housewives in Riau to make batik.

“APRIL is helping people to be more independent and to survive – I think that this is great because this doesn’t support just one SDG, but it is helping to achieve most of them,” Galuh says.

As of now, Galuh hopes that all the ideas proposed during the youth summit will eventually come to fruition, and be implemented accordingly to achieve the SDGs.

“I also really want to inspire and to influence people because I really believe that everyone has their own potential to do something about the SDGs.

“Maybe I can’t fix a problem, but they can. Maybe they hold the answers to the world’s problems.”

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