An ambitious radio series starts tomorrow (20 January) on BBC World Service. Co-produced by the BBC and The Open University’s (OU) Broadcast and Partnerships team, Project 17 looks at the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals through the eyes of seventeen,17-year-olds from 17 different countries. Just over five years after the goals were created with the intention of radically changing the world, the series investigates if and how lives have been changed.
Presented by BBC Afghan journalist, Sana Safi, each half-an-hour episode focuses on a specific goal, guided by a 17 year-old for whom the issue has a personal resonance. They will explain why goals such as access to clean water, a healthier diet and a good education are so important to their families, communities and their own future wellbeing and prosperity.
They also visit projects tackling each issue head on, taking us around their neighbourhoods talking to other teenagers, listening to experts, and interrogating those in authority to find out whether there is a chance that the Sustainable Development Goals can be met by 2030 – and in the process create better opportunities for their generation. It is a chance to hear how young people want to shape their future.
“There are many issues around poverty and equality where it is not just about what politicians or international action can do, but about the hope young people can ignite. And for the Sustainable Development Goals to work they have to involve young people. It sounds simple, but this series shows how hard this might be.”
OU academic consultants Professor Giles Mohan, Chair of International Development, and Dr Eric Addae-Kyeremeh, Associate Head of School – Innovation, have been involved in advising and shaping the script.
Professor Giles Mohan, Chair of International Development, said:
“The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to arms for every country. But, the goals are incredibly ambitious and will take many years to reach – young people will be the ones who have to live with whether we can collectively make the world a more just and sustainable place.
“Yet, young people are often left out of these critical debates which will profoundly affect their lives. So, what better way to understand this challenge than by getting 17-year olds from around the world to give us their analysis.”
Dr Eric Addae-Kyeremeh, Associate Head of School – Innovation at The Open University, added:
“Working with the BBC on this series has been an exciting experience. Analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals trends globally, reveals a mixed picture of whether countries are progressing sufficiently to achieve the goals by 2030. This series is a fascinating journey across the world and brings to the fore how policy and some of our practices impacts our world.
“The focus on seventeen 17 year-olds as they tackle experts and policymakers on what has to change, highlights the importance of inclusivity and openness if we are to create an equitable, sustainable and just society. The views of these 17 young people and the issues they raise about poverty, gender inequality, access to clean water and the impact of climate change on their community are worth hearing if we are to achieve the targets.”
The first episode follows Lanre from the United Kingdom, as he discusses child poverty. It will be aired on BBC World Service at various times (2:32, 6:32, 9:32, 13:32, 23:32) on Wednesday 20 January and is available to listen to now on BBC iPlayer.
- Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships
- Academic Consultants: Professor Giles Mohan and Dr Eric Addae-Kyeremeh
- Media Fellow: Dr Mathijs Lucassen
- Broadcast Project Manager: Matthew Ray