From the Field: Ben Goes to Sri Lanka

Ben is in there somewhere!

With a new World Health Organization report revealing that road traffic injuries are the #1 killer of adolescents worldwide, youth-led efforts to reduce traffic deaths are more important than ever.

Appropriately, in this installment of From the Field, Amend intern Ben Campbell describes his experience advocating for road safety’s place in the global development agenda at the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka.

From May 5th – 10th 2014, I had the great privilege of joining youth leaders from over 170 countries with the goal of mainstreaming youth voices into the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As a representative from Amend, I was on a mission to ensure that road safety and reduction of road traffic injury (RTI) was a major health priority for the upcoming development era.

The conference aimed to create a Declaration of Action, and there were two major ways participants could contribute to the final document.  First, there were breakout working groups, based on themes, where you could voice your concerns.  Each day, I attended the ‘Promoting Healthy Lives’ group, and it was there where I met Manpreet Darroch, road safety advocate from YOURS.  It was energizing to connect with other road safety advocates, but we were shocked at how few people at the conference were aware of the severity of road traffic injuries around the world.  With RTI being the #1 cause of death for young people globally, killing more people than HIV, TB, and malaria, we expected more young people to be aware.  We made it our mandate to engage with other youth leaders, inform them, and advocate for road injury prevention in the final Declaration.

Second, after the working groups, all of our input entered into the major negotiations. This was a long and tedious process in which country representatives and Ministers oftentimes disagreed over seemingly minor issues, such as wording and grammar. But after it was all said and done, I am happy to report that the final Colombo Declaration of Action included injuries as a top priority for youth in the Post-2015 agenda.

This is a big step in the effort to place RTI prevention firmly in the Post-2015 agenda, but there is a lot more to do. As we enter into the final deliberations of shaping the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial that youth and all of us in the road safety community push for a road safety target, which could save millions of lives.

To stay involved, follow the U.N. crowdsourcing platform, Global Partnership for Youth, as well as road safety advocates @Amend and @YOURS_YforRS.

– Ben Campbell, Amend intern