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11.02.2021

Education is key for creating a better future

I dag startet bærekraftskonferansen SDG Conference Bergen 2021, arrangert av Universitetet i Bergen. Leder i NSO, Andreas Trohjell, deltok under åpningen. Under finner du talen. 

Dear Rector, Minister, ladies and gentlemen, and of course; students

The health, economic and social crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for us all. The coronavirus has affected each and one of us. But as with other crises, marginalized groups have been hit hardest, and in developing countries the most vulnerable have been hit even harder.

This year’s conference is a reminder that while we face the consequences of the pandemic, there are a number of issues at hand that need attention.

For those of us who are in good health and who don’t have to worry about losing our job – it might seem like our life and the world has been set on pause. But the work to tackle inequalities, climate change, securing access to health services and education for all have to continue.

We can not just talk about the SDGs after the crisis. We have to talk about the SDGs during the crisis.

The UNs Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 is depressing reading. Even before the pandemic the world was not on track to meet the goals by 2030. You do not have to be a scholar to speculate on what consequences the pandemic has for reaching the goals.

According to the report the pandemic has caused at least 500 million youth to lose access to education, reversing years of progress.

Education is key for creating a better future. To quote Prime Minister Erna Solberg: “Investing in quality education, and especially for girls, is the single most effective investment we can make for sustainable development.”

We don’t know how many girls will not finish their education because of closed schools. There has been a rise in child marriages and in violence against women, while access to health services has been redused.

When we take in all the negative effects of the pandemic, the need for global action to reach the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda becomes even more apparent. As we move forward, we have to rebuild a society that is more equitable and that meets the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In doing so, the voice of young people and students need to be heard and be part of the decision-making that forms the future. As we are the ones who will live with the consequences of the decisions made today. We need a global arena where we can discuss universal matters such as quality education, student rights and the SDGs. A global student voice.

Students and the student movement play an important role in reaching the SDGs and Agenda 2030. Both in using the knowledge we acquire through higher education and through activism. All over the world we see students demonstrate against injustice and working to create a better future. The latter exemplified by the winner of this year’s Student Peace Prize; METU LGBTI+ Solidarity. A student group working for a diverse society and inclusive education for all, located at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. And just a couple days ago, students in Myanmar.

Higher education plays an essential role in securing that all goals are met. The students graduating from your institutions need to have the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes necessary to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. And institutions of higher education have a responsibility to share knowledge that can be used to reach the SDGs to policymakers and society at large.

I challenge universities and other higher education institutions to be role models for organizations and companies. Incorporating climate and sustainability into all aspects of your work, and showing society how knowledge can be used in practice to reach the SDGs.

 

I look forward to following the conference.

Thank you, and remember, today’s youth will inherit the SDGs, even with the setback of the global pandemic.

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