The SDGs as Your Sustainability Blueprint


 |  The Starfish

At the heart of The Starfish Canada is a story about a young boy, a dark and windy night on the ocean, and tons of starfish washed up on shore. Even though there are many, the boy begins to take one starfish at a time and place it back into the water, knowing that even if he can’t help all of them, he can help one, and that makes a difference. 

Through our mission, values, and work, The Starfish Canada is focused on making a difference and helping that one or two or many young Canadians to become leaders and changemakers within their own communities and across Canada. Since 2010, we have been providing the platform and resources necessary in order for them to get there; through our Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists Program, to our Educational Workshops and Youth Journal, to our new offering called Youth Leadership Labs, we exist to help support, amplify, and celebrate the voices, stories, and work of young environmentalists. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a blueprint in the face of the ever-increasing negative impacts of climate change. Through an SDG lens, the changes that need to be accomplished in order for us to achieve environmental sustainability around the world become more clear and straightforward. Through the SDGs, we are united as a global community working together towards a safe, fair, just, and sustainable future for all. 

But what do the SDGs mean for youth? Youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow, youth are the leaders of today. Young people in environmental leadership bring new ideas, a critical perspective, and a willingness to challenge the status quo and place radical, transformative, and systemic changes at the forefront of the environmental movement. For most youth nowadays, coming out of a global pandemic while also facing the rise of a global climate crisis is a heavy weight to bear. First and foremost, the beginning of any action on climate change begins with checking in with yourself and your community members. Ask people how they’re doing and lean on each other to find comfort in these difficult and overwhelming times.

Think about what makes you tick. What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning, excited to begin each new day? How can that passion intersect with sustainability? Take a peek at all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals and use their action items as a jumping off point for your ideas. If you need some inspiration, our current and previous Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 are incredible changemakers whose stories and work will surely spark creative and critical thinking. 

What’s missing from the SDGs and how can they be improved? As mentioned, the SDGs are a blueprint, which means that they can be built on, critiqued, and transformed to become and mean something completely different to a new and younger generation of environmental leaders. An important part of this movement is making sure that we think critically about the ways that the SDGs and sustainability in general meet the needs of everyone everywhere.

Community-driven action is an incredibly important part of this movement. If you don’t have a community of people you can turn to at this moment, join ours! The Starfish Canada is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone, and we are here to support young people on their sustainability path through the variety of programs that we offer. 

Thinking back on the story of that one boy and many starfish reminds me that change is possible, even if you are only one person or one community. Find out what it is that you are passionate about, create a community of people around you who believe in your dreams and goals, and put them into action!

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program.