On 16th December 2022, the inaugural G17 Summit Sri Lanka and Award Ceremony was held at the Duncan White Auditorium, Ministry of Youth and Sports in Colombo, from 2 pm to 6 pm.
The G17 University Ambassadors Consortium (G17 UAC), a global fellowship program ideated by The Road to Rights (recipient of the United Nations SDG Action Award 2018), aims to mold university undergraduates into resilient leaders through an experiential learning environment to make our communities and planet a better place through practices of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In line with this mission, the G17 Summit aims to accelerate the dialogue on the SDGs by bringing together corporate leaders, government officials, academics and university students. Under the theme of “Reshaping the Future Workforce Through SDGs”, the 2022 summit highlighted the importance of intergenerational and intersectoral collaboration to lead the SDGs. Following two panel discussions, an award ceremony for the 2021 batch of University Ambassadors was held, with the presentation of certificates for their outstanding contributions.
The first discussion on “The Future of Work” was moderated by Aashiq Aminuddin, Learning Facilitator, Entrepreneur and Senior Trainer at Luminary Learning Solutions. This was an exclusive discussion with Isuru Gunasekera, Chief People Officer, Head of Sustainability and Executive Vice President of John Keells Group where he shared many insights with the youth on how the future of work would be. The second panel discussion on “Youth Leading System Change for Climate Action” was moderated by Kavindu Ediriweera, Director of Youth Programmes at SLYCAN Trust. Distinguished speakers consisted of Ms. Anoka Abeyrathne FRSA, multi-award winning conservationist, social entrepreneur and speaker; Dr. Erandathie Lokupitiya, Professor at the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo; Professor Kokila Konasinghe, Founding Director of the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, University of Colombo; and Ms. Wathsala Jayamanne, UNICEF Sri Lanka.
The award ceremony was graced by Hon. Dr. Suren Ragavan, State Minister of Higher Education; Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Senior Professor and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura; and Dr. Janaka Fernando, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Heartiest congratulations to all the awardees:
- University Ambassador of the Year – Rasanjanee Polgampala, University of Colombo
- Outstanding Coordinator – Hashan Thilakaratne University of Peradeniya
- Most Contributing Coordinator – KIthmi Weeratunga, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
- Most Sustainable Project of the Year – M.G Sayuri Kanchana Gamage, with the project name “Give Chance to Drink Pure Water”
- Most Impactful Project of the Year –
- Most Innovative Project of the Year – Jayanthan Amalanthan University of Uwa Wellassa
- Best PR Campaign – Janith K Chanthuranga, University of Colombo
- Best Social Media Advocate – Danesh Jayasinghe, Central Campus Colombo
- Best Article of the Year – Nemindi Rathnayake University of Kelaniya, on the “Absence of Women in Sri Lankan Politics”
- Best University of the Year 2021 – Sabaragamuwa University
- Best Ambassador – Dulanjani Agalawatte, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
- Best Ambassador – Senuri Dinelka, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
- Best University – Sabaragamuwa University Sri Lanka
In his remarks, the Founder of The Road to Rights Mr. Ashan Perera said: “Universities, with their broad mandate around the creation and dissemination of knowledge and their unique position within society, have a critical role to play in the achievement of the SDGs. Education, research, innovation, and leadership will be essential in helping society address challenges.”
Co-founder of G17 UAC, Yasara Ramanayake stated, “As history has shown when women do better, the society as a whole does better. If young girls are adequately supported throughout their greatest years, they have the potential to change the world. As G17 UAC, we offer such opportunities for females in universities, with more than 70% women representation today.”
Currently, the G17 UAC is engaging with 74 universities in 15 countries including the Philippines, Brazil, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ghana, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Russia, Sweden and Bhutan with more than 2300 young people signing up to form cohorts of ambassadors.
The program appoints 17 Young Ambassadors, one for each SDG within each university. These young ambassadors will lead their university in strategizing the SDGs’ implementation process and develop projects centered on their SDGs to provide tangible and impactful results. Workshops, conferences, advocacy campaigns, as well as grass-roots efforts and individual activities, are examples of such undertakings.
The G17 Sri Lanka Summit and Award Ceremony 2022 was a resounding success, supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Education, the American Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka, MAS Holdings, and Coca Cola Sri Lanka. The G17 UAC looks forward to hosting more of these national conferences in the future, making the SDGs a national and global reality.