Hyginus Laari, National finalist, 2017 Edition. National Youth SDGs essay competition.

In June, 2017 while on vacation I returned to campus; University for Development Studies, Tamale to run some errands for my Association. On one of the purposeful errand days while returning to campus from town, I found myself in a taxi and seated beside me was a young lady on a phone call discussing with a friend about a National Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Youth Essay Competition she saw on WhatsApp. Shortly after the call, I broke the silence between us to enquire about the essay competition. After the chat we exchanged contact numbers, through which I also saw the essay advertisement on WhatsApp. Upon returning to Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, I went to Tanga Radio, one of the points for the writing pads and picked up one of the writing pads, prepared and submitted my essay.

The essay topic was an enough motivation for me to participate, especially that aspect that required young people to explain how they could help solve some problems in their communities. I had ideas in mind which remained abstract and had never been poured out to reside on papers. The SDG Youth Essay Competition was a push on me to bring them out and have them scripted.

It was a daring moment when I decided to participate. At some point I felt like giving up and walking away. That was actually the first time I heard about the SDGs. It was challenge for me because I still had to put on my reading lenses to search online and study the SDGs at the expense of hanging out with friends as we usually do on vacations.

In October while on campus, I felt a kind of joy I never felt before, which came in shortly after I received a phone call congratulating me on making it to the top 25 national finalists out of the 411 applications.

Through this, I got the opportunity to meet the other finalists at the awards ceremony in Accra and networked with other dignitaries that were present including; The Executive Director at Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES) Ghana, Mr. Emmanuel Edudzie, The Economics Specialist at UNDP, Mr Kordzo Sedegah, The Executive Director at Youth Advocates Ghana, Mr. Emmanuel Ametepey. I have remained in contact with them.

I must say, my journey so far with the SDGs is super amazing! Through my engagement with the SDGs, I have gained recognitions both national and international, which has opened me up to a wider network than I have ever had.

Below are some of achievements;

  • In June 2019, I was invited to speak at a youth seminar in Techiman on the topic: ‘The SDGs And How To Achieve Them’
  • In April 2019, I was awarded by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the Clean Ghana Ambassadors for the best article during the Clean Ghana Challenge 2018.
  • In May 2018, I was named one of the top 35 finalists for the World and top 5 for the African region during the 2018 edition of Young Champions of the Earth Prize competition by United Nations Environment Programme, which the total applications were 760. Due to this, I was invited to join an online mentorship program at the DO School based in Germany.
  • In August 2018, I also had an opportunity of being selected as one of the top 100 African landscape restoration youth leaders under the Youth in Landscape Initiative for the African region, prior to the Global Landscapes Forum in Nairobi, Kenya 2018.
  • In November 2018, I received the Dean’s 2017/2018 Creativity and Innovation award for graduating student.   
  • In November 2018, during the 2nd African Youth SDGs summit I led a team win the 3rd position in the 2018 UNICEF Hackathon Generation Unlimited Challenge at the Accra International Conference Center.