Jean Monnet SDG Network Represented at the UN High-Level Political Forum

Jean Monnet SDG Network Represented at the UN High-Level Political Forum

Member of the Jean Monnet Sustainable Development Goals Network Associate Professor Robert Guevara is currently attending the United Nations’ High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2019 in his capacity as Vice President (Asia Pacific), International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), and former ASPBAE President.

ASPBAE delegates, including ASPBAE President, Nani Zulminarni (second from left), Cecilia (Thea) Soriano, and Jose Roberto (Robbie) Guevara, Vice President (Asia Pacific), International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and former ASPBAE President, with Yolanda Joab (centre) after she challenged HLPF delegates to be more courageous in making decisions.

You can read Robbie’s first despatch below:

Pacific youth challenges delegates of HLPF 2019 be courageous

Robbie Guevara

One of the most powerful keynote speeches during the Official Opening of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2019 was delivered by Yolanda Joab, Leadership Fellow 2016 of the Pacific Islands Leadership Programme. A young mother from the Federated States of the Micronesia, she shared the message from the youth participants who attended the recent UN ECOSOC Youth Forum.

She opened by sharing the story of her 90-year-old grandmother who, informed by her indigenous knowledge, continues to worry about the changes she has observed in her environment. These changes are telling her that despite the aspirations of the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs), we are not close enough.

Yolanda despaired at the lack of access to quality education for young people across the Pacific. She argued that we often say that we build the future of young people, but fail to build the capacity of our young people to contribute to being part of building their own future.

With regards to climate change, she said that science is not negotiable. We need to transform our economy towards a clean and green transition.

Yolanda concluded that during the UN ECOSOC youth forum, she looked around the room and saw her peers. Today, when she looks around the room, she sees power. Power in the people who can make the change. And she challenged those gathered for the HLPF 2019, “What we need now is not just power, but courage to use that power. Leadership with the guts to take action that puts people and planet above profit. Take the decision that requires more courage.”

This blog was originally published on the ASPBAE HLPF Blog on July 10.

About the Jean Monnet Sustainable Development Goals Network

The Jean Monnet SDG Network formalises relationships amongst researchers, policy think tanks and Non-Government Organisations who share a primary interest in enhancing the effective contribution of the EU to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia Pacific. By strengthening collaboration amongst researchers and policy makers, the Network promotes a more effective evidence-base for EU institutions to engage with nations in the region to implement the SDGs. Its core question is: how can European Union integration be more effective in supporting the implementation of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific than would be possible for individual Member States? How can this role be developed further?

For more information, or to be added to our mailing list, contact

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

11 July 2019


11 July 2019


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