Forty young people from throughout the country gathered in Yangon on September 26 to exchange ideas about adopting sustainable development objectives in Myanmar.

The youths, who represented a range of ethnicities and social groups, were participating in the Social Good Summit at Chatrium Hotel in Yangon.

The event was organised by UN agencies and was aimed at providing a forum for discussing the importance of the UN’s recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their relation to young people in Myanmar.

The SDGs are a proposed set of 17 targets relating to future international development. They were adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on September 25 and will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once those expire at the end of 2015.

The MDGs have helped cut extreme poverty by half since their establishment in 2000. The SDGs, also called Global Goals, aim to end poverty everywhere and in all its forms by 2030.

Twenty-year-old Ma Su Yadanar Myint, a member of the Dagon University Student Union who participated in the summit, said she believed the SDGs were important for Myanmar.

“I didn’t know what SDGs were before, but I learned about the goals at the summit and realised they are very important for our country,” she said.

“Although policies adopted by the government are important, every citizen – including youths – is responsible for achieving those goals. If the public is aware of the goals, they can push the government to implement them and the target will be reached.”

Ma Su Yadanar Myint said the summit inspired her to “participate actively in future campaigns” to raise awareness about the SDGs, especially those concerned with education.

“Today I have been able to do lots of networking to participate in the campaign concerning the SDGs,” she said.

Among the goals included in the SDGs are ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for everyone.

Youths participating in the summit agreed that other SDGs relevant to Myanmar include those concerned with ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, endorsing environmental conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and promoting peace.

Toily Kurbanov, the country director of the UN Development Programme, told The Myanmar Times that translating the SDGs into the “Myanmar context” was vital.

“Each country has unique development circumstances. Taking the SDGs and blindly adopting them in Myanmar may not be beneficial for Myanmar society,” he said.

“So we have to join the government, civil society, the private sector and ethnic groups – with support from UN agencies – to create a space for discussions at the appropriate time about what the SDGs should mean in the Myanmar context.”

But before that can happen, it’s important to create “sufficient awareness” of the SDGs, Mr Kurbanov said.

“That’s why the Social Good Summit focuses on increasing awareness of the SDGs among the youth of Myanmar – because they will be the agents of change,” he said.