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Meet SDG 11 Youth Ambassador in Russia – 2020!


Maria Zalieva – #SDG11 Youth Ambassador in Russia: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Maria was born in St. Petersburg. She graduated from the Saint Petersburg State University as a French language translator. However, the love towards her native city and the desire to make it even better inspired her to pursue a career in urban development. Currently Maria is an MA student at the Institute of Design and Urban Studies of the ITMO University with a research focus on smart solutions as tools for SDGs implementation. This year she is also a student of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (School of Governance and Politics).

Maria is a winner of the 2019 Sustainable Development Week Quiz-hackathon. She has completed the short-term international exchange program Erasmus + «Arts in Urban Places»; developed recommendations for the improvement of St. Petersburg as part of the «Digital Kronstadt» project on the basis of the Project Center of the St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Today Maria is a co-organizing of the campaign «Bezbumagi» (Without paper), which will be held in St. Petersburg soon, and she is developing a program of the ITMO University visit to Germany with the theme of sustainable urban development.

– What world will we live in 25 years from now if the current global trends continue?

– Reflecting on the future of the world, it is impossible to ignore the progress we have made over the past 20 years. We can witness how during this time the business sector, various public and governmental organizations have contributed greatly to the promotion of the sustainable development agenda. However, there are still problems in the world that can be solved only by working together towards SDGs implementation. Certainly, we will live and already live in a more dynamic and transparent world. For example, yesterday all social media were reporting an environmental disaster at Khalaktyrsky Beach (Kamchatka), today everyone already knows about it, and it is impossible to hide this problem. This is a very positive reality of our time. Nevertheless, such catastrophes are still happening, and the nature is losing its patience. Our task is to intensify all efforts in this last decade of the 2030 Agenda so that in 25 years from now the world can indeed be described as a better place.

– What would you advise the UN Secretary-General to do to address the global challenges?

– In my opinion, it is very important to continue fostering the youth sector. As an SDG 11 Youth Ambassador, I see that the pace of urban life is not just fast, but lightning fast (let’s call it «life with the speed of zoom»). Traditionally, it is young people who respond the fastest to these changes. I think that their views on pressing urban issues could be instrumental in revising and possibly accelerating the path to achieving the ultimate indicators of our goals.