ISLAMABAD: Oxfam in Pakistan in collaboration with Bargad held a ceremony to mark the end of their nation-wide campaign to engage youth for sustainable development goals (SDGs) across Pakistan. Through the campaign over 2000 students from eleven universities in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta were encouraged to work towards climate change, gender equality, inclusive and sustainable growth and peace, justice and institutional development aligned with Pakistan’s Vision 2025. The closing ceremony was held at the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. Oxfam in Pakistan’s Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash appreciated the efforts of the youth of Pakistan and said, “Youth are a catalyst for development and especially in Pakistan where youth constitute more than 60% of country’s population. It is important to invest in youth and champion them in social, economic, science & technology and entrepreneurial roles that will enhance Pakistan’s economic and social development. They should be given priority and encouraged to contribute and provide solutions for global problems. Pakistan is the only country to include SGDs in its national agenda and internal and external partnerships are necessary to realize these goals.” The objective of the youth campaign was to involve youth from higher education institutions in Pakistan with the SDGs through orientation and awareness. The SDG framework provides an avenue where 17 goals and 169 targets call for involving Pakistani youth with the SDGs. The seminars focused on SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), SDG 8 (Sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth), SDG 11 (Safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements) and SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). Pakistan has around 56 million youth and youth spaces are shrinking day by day. There is a dearth for appropriate platforms where youth can express themselves and realize their potential in economic, social and political and civic spheres. The framework of SDGs provides an avenue that can involve youth in the development process. The speakers called for creating awareness and knowledge about how critical the SDG goals were to improving the lives of people and how to make the process sustainable and inclusive. They encouraged Pakistani youth to be an active part of achieving the SDGs. Sabiha Shaheen, Executive Director Bargad stated, “We are investing a lot in youth and synchronizing youth through these pilot initiatives while evaluating their progress for further development. We will use the power of youth to address issues like poverty, gender discrimination, climate change, livelihoods, massive urbanization and conflicts.” Oxfam intends to bring about long term change in communities by engaging and mobilizing the youth of Pakistan. We believe youth have the right to voice their needs, to hold their governments to account, and to be listened to as members of society and rights-holders; as active citizens. They can play a vital role in reducing poverty and transforming their societies. Oxfam aims to enable young people to fulfil this potential and to shape their own futures. Published in Daily Times, April 6th 2018.