RCE Greater Western Sydney - 2021


RCE SDG Youth Challenge 2021
Basic Information
Title of project : 
RCE SDG Youth Challenge 2021
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Western Sydney
Contributing organization(s) : 
Western Sydney University
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Brittany Hardiman
Organizational Affiliation: 
Western Sydney University
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW, 2751, Australia
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Greater Western Sydney is located in the western part of the Sydney metropolitan area, and is a growing region of economic opportunity, community aspiration and environmental diversity. GWS is recognised as an area of growing national importance and has one of the fastest growing populations in Australia. As such it faces the distinctive sustainability challenges associated with a rapidly developing, culturally diverse, peri-urban region.
• GWS is home to roughly 1 in every 11 Australians.
• GWS has the third largest economy in Australia.
• GWS has higher than average education levels, unemployment and lower than average salary levels.
• GWS encompasses significant areas of national parks, fresh waterways and parklands.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
RCE-GWS supports and encourages the involvement of youth, through formal and informal ESD activities, through our network. Today’s youth face extraordinary global sustainability challenges. Worsening modern conflicts, climate change, increasing gaps of inequality, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic. Youth are bombarded with messages about their future and challenged to make positive change, yet are not often given the chance to constructively do so at a meaningful local level. This initiative gives youth leaders a voice, motivation and valuable experience in learning to be the drivers of change in their communities and how to effectively mobilise their peers.
Today’s youth face extraordinary global challenges. Worsening modern conflicts, climate change, increasing gaps of inequality, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic. Youth are bombarded with messages about their future and challenged to make positive change, yet are not often given the chance to constructively do so at a meaningful local level. The RCE network was established in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2016 at the 10th Global RCE Meeting a youth presences was invited to join. This led to the establishment of the RCE Youth Network, and for the Asia-Pacific region, the mechanism youth engagement was the RCE SDG Youth Challenge. This youth-led project-based initiative connects youth leaders working in their own communities and places to a larger global (virtual) platform.
The aim of the SDG Youth Challenge is to empowers young leaders to have a voice while gaining valuable experience in learning to be the drivers of change in their communities, mobilizing the SDGs using a peer-peer learning model (i.e. youth to youth). The Challenge gives a space for youth people to be active participants in creating the sustainable future they want, rather than passive participants in program (typical model of youth engagement). This ongoing initative has been running since 2018, and in 2021 youth-led projects looked at SDG 11 Sustainable Cities, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 15 Life on Land. All projects are underpinned by cross-cutting themes of SDG 4 and SDG 17.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
This years activities have included species conservation research and plantings, youth-led workshop and training for community and schools, development of prototype materials, and social media campaigns. The SDG Youth Challenge was originally co-designed and co-delivered by Mrs Brittany Hardiman (RCE Greater Western Sydney, Australia) and Mrs Emmy Yuniarti Rusadi (RCE Yogyakarta, Indonesia, who has since moved on) as youth for youth program; a first of its kind across the RCE network. Our roles are to manage and coordinate their efforts to operationalize the SDDs, collating data and reporting, and disseminating our collective work through written reports, publications and presentations. Parent RCEs or organizational coordinators/representatives provide youth with mentorship/support, assistance in conceptualizing the project as the project requires. An annual report of projects is produced. This year (2021) was hosted by RCE-GWS.
Size of academic audience: 
Over 26,000 individuals directly (youth and non-youth) over the last 4 year
While the Challenge has yet ended for this year (youth reporting period is November), each of the youth-led projects is shaped by it local leader/s and interpreted sustainable development and sustainability approaches and education in a wide variety of ways. Prelimaray results through mid-year reporting show engagement of 1,100 youth across 7 projects. COVID has had impacts on progression for many. A final report will be released in January 2022.
Lessons learned: 
While this grand agenda can be challenging to navigate, the RCE SDG Youth Challenge is an exemplar of how youth across continents, using a place-based approach linked to a global platform, can work together to create impact and mobilise their young peers. The Challenge is a learning curve transforming young people into leaders, and for some the first time many have coordinated a project, developed partnerships, pursued funding, advocated for change and took action. RCEs have been supporting their youth leaders through mentorship, guidance and support, as well as with small seed funding and local contacts.
Key messages: 
The RCE SDG Youth Challenge “Youth for the Goals” is an ongoing, international youth-led project-based initiative that empowers and connects youth leaders to mobilise action to create the future we want. Using a peer-peer learning model and connection to place, youth drive change from a grassroots level incorporating ESD principles and actively address the SDGs.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
Youth-led projects represent 24 different global RCEs (predominately in the Asia-Pacific), as well as other a handful of NGOs and international agencies. This project is one of the core initiatives of the Asia-Pacific RCE networks “Joint RCE Project” for 2020-21 to support inter- and intra-RCE collaboration. Focusing on 2020-21, the Challenge was leveraged as a joint RCE initiative for the region. Participating RCEs for this period included RCE Belarus, RCE Central Semenanjung, RCE Greater Atlanta, RCE Greater Portland, RCE Greater Western Sydney, RCE Kuching, RCE Lucknow, RCE Penang, RCE Salisbury, and RCE Yogyakarta, as well as 4 external organisations.
There is no designated funding to support this project. Youth leaders are encouraged to secure funding to support their projects through the RCEs, businesses, crowd funding or grants. Brittany’s role in managing and hosting this initiative is supported by Western Sydney University as part of her duties as the Sustainability Coordinator.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Youth Activity Snapshot for their 2021 project RCE Central Semnjung
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level