By Oumie Bojang
The University of The Gambia has on Thursday launched the Centre for Sustainable Development Policy Study, and the finale of the UTG’s Sustainable Development Goal Challenge. The intent is to contribute to the ongoing contributions and efforts in the development and enhancement of research and policy capacity within and outside The Gambia.
Speaking at the event, Prof Francis Sarr, representing the Vice Chancellor, said they stood on recipe of innovation premiered by their student’s collective intellect and creativity, who are poised to become torchbearers of change.
Prof Sarr said the UTG’s SDG Challenge emerged from a profound place in the potential of their students, to serve as a catalyst for positive change inspired by the United Nations Sustainable development goal, and grounded on the principles of the National Development Plan. “This challenge seeks to breach the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical solutions to socio-economic changes, it manifests our commitment to nurturing socially responsible and solution oriented leaders.”
He alluded that their strategic objectives are designed to be both teaching and impactful, from consolidating student efforts towards sustainable development, to actively promoting participation of youth and women, showcasing and nurturing student talents, enhancing academic experiences and connecting local communities. “Each goal is a deliberate step towards student development; additionally, exposure to international perspective and fostering partnerships with diverse stakeholders are integral to our strategic vision.”
Kemo Conteh, president UTG Students Union, said the SDG plan’s agenda of section 2015, 2023 has a broader objective of dealing with the underlying factors that can trigger conflicts, poverty, inequality, disease, hunger, and lack of education. “So today if young people of the UTG have great minds, talents and experience to compete to resolve the societal turbulence and problems, they should be commended.”
Conteh said they remain hopeful that these SDG challenges have significant issues in terms of uplifting them; it can create a platform for student innovation. “Innovation is key in responding to societal problems, because you cannot uniquely do it unless you are innovative to identify what others are yet to identify, to enable you to innovatively respond to them.”
Sambou Nget, representing UNDP, explained to the audience that the UTG’s SDG challenge is not just an academic exercise, it is a celebration of innovation, collaboration and the unwavering commitment of youth sustainable development. “UNDP recognises the power of young minds in driving positive change, and we are proud to support initiatives that empower students to address real world challenges.
He said as a key partner in this endeavour, UNDP acknowledges the crucial link between the SDGs and the National development plan of The Gambia. This challenge provides a unique opportunity for students to align their innovative solutions with the broader national development objectives, for sustainable and resilient future for the country, he concluded.