More than 250 students from 17 different schools in Samoa marched down Beach Road yesterday, joining the government to celebrate five decades of the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P).
The event saw people from all different walks of life come together to appreciate the work of the U.N.D.P not only in Samoa, but also throughout the world. The celebration started with a parade from the Police Station to the government building.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, acknowledged U.N.D.P’s contribution to the development of Samoa over the years, starting in 1979.
“Through an increasing in country presence of the various U.N. Agencies and engagement in a number of mutually agreed to programmes, the U.N.D.P in particular has been contributing significantly with its technical expertise and resources through many areas of the country’s development since 1979.”
Fast forward to today, Tuilaepa said the new Sustainable Development Goals reflect the needs of society today. “Everybody has a role to play. The 2030 Agenda calls for a willingness to share ideas, experiences and knowledge.”
The Prime Minister was thrilled to see the participation of students and youth. U.N. Resident Coordinator and U.N.D.P Resident Representative, Lizbeth Cullity, said that over the years, the U.N.D.P has been supporting governments to eradicate poverty, promote gender equality and to protect the environment. Their goal is to improve lives, she said.
She added that yesterday’s celebration was not so much about reflecting on what has been achieved, but rather to look ahead.
That’s where the students came in yesterday. Seventeen local schools each had a S.D.G to promote. For Ronette Vaai, from Saint Mary’s College, she said she was thrilled to be part of the programme.
“As future leaders of Samoa, I think it’s important to start learning about ways in which we can address the issues we continue to face, and to implement all the goals for a better Samoa.”
It was the first Ronette had learnt about all the 17 goals, and for that, she was very happy.
“It’s very interesting and very educational for me. I love how we are all here sharing our knowledge and learning from one another about all the different ways in which we can improve our lives. “This is also a good way to help alleviate violence and fights amongst some of the schools here in Samoa, if we all work together to promote peace and equality for all.”
Mase Neemia from Robert Louis Stevenson School couldn’t agree more.
“Today has been wonderful,” he said. “I learnt so much about the goals and I am glad to be part of this celebration. The United Nations has done a lot of work to help develop all the different countries including Samoa and I think that they are doing a very great job.
“We presented on the S.D.G 16, which looks at promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies and I had fun learning about it all.”