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SOS child speaks at the UN

Rodrigo, a 14-year-old boy from SOS Chile, stands between the Co-Facilitators of the Post-2015 process
Rodrigo, a 14-year-old boy from SOS Chile, stands between the Co-Facilitators of the Post-2015 process

Rodrigo will never forget the day he spoke in front of global leaders at an event at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Growing up in an SOS Children’s Village in Chile, the now 14-year-old never imagined that one day he would be given the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the young people of Latin America at the UN.

He delivered a speech in the plenary where UN member states listened to civil society representatives share views on what indicators should be used to help measure the progress of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Giving young people a voice

The 17 SDGs are designed to make the world we live in a better place for all. They are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have defined the global debate on important issues like poverty and inequality for the past 15 years.

“What you are deciding here are things that today’s children are going to implement, suffer from and enjoy. So our opinion is important,” Rodrigo told the audience.

Rodrigo’s speech went down incredibly well, receiving applause and drawing praise from many of those attending. “I wonder what some of us were doing when we were we 14,” said the Kenyan Ambassador, particularly impressed with the speech given Rodrigo’s age. 

Highlighting the importance of education and love

Rodrigo, 14-year-old boy from SOS Chile, sits in on the SGDs in New York
Rodrigo at the United Nations debate on the Post-2015 development goals

The consultation process for the SDGs that Rodrigo contributed to broke new ground in the setting of targets for UN member states. The previous MDGs were created behind closed doors at the UN, meaning that civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and ordinary citizens had no say in the targets that were created. This time around however there was much more involvement from a broad range of organisations and private sector companies. The hope is that the SDGs will be far more inclusive, applying equally to both the developing and developed world.

At a separate event later in the day - also part of the Children Speak Out on SDGs series - Rodrigo told a gathering of international child-focused organisations that one of the top priorities for children and young people should be quality education. “Education is the basis of any success, it helps lift people out of poverty,” he said. Without quality education, UN member states will be unable to achieve any other development goal, he argued.

He also highlighted the importance of living with a family, as well as increasing the availability of good jobs so that parents are able to provide adequate support to their children. “Ultimately what a child, as well as any person, needs to feel good and get ahead in life, is love,” he concluded.

“You will tell me that love is hard to measure, but it is not difficult to create the conditions that encourage it, so that all children can enjoy it without discrimination.” 

Find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals.