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Games that help the youth understand the SDGs
Sustainable Development Games | The Harvest Game

On the 16th October 2020, the Namibian Youth Coalition for Climate Change (NYCCC), with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation, hosted their sustainable development goals (SDG) games with a group of learners from Hochland High School.

The objective of these monthly games is to both educate and provide a forum for Namibian youth to discuss the importance of sustainable development for Namibia and the international community more generally. 

Before beginning the interactive games, NYCCC representative Hanns Hangue provided an overview of the 17 SDGs by the United Nations to be achieved through global efforts by 2030. Each goal was presented in relation to its relevance in the Namibian context. For example, when explaining Goal #10 to reduce inequalities, Hanns reminded learners that Namibia’s Gini Index, a measure for distribution of income, currently stands at 59.1 making it one of the most economically unequal societies in the world behind only South Africa and Brazil. 


Above all else, the presentation stressed the lengths to which governments and citizens alike must go to reduce the impact of climate change. While globalisation has undoubtedly provided greater opportunities for collaboration between states to achieve SDG goals, Hangue admitted that “as a climate activist … it is difficult not to be pessimistic about the fact that if we do not quickly act to reduce our emissions by 7% annually … we are likely to cause irreversible damage to our planet by 2030”

Having spoken powerfully to the immediate importance of the issue, the students were organised into groups of five for a sustainable development roleplaying game. Each group represented a fishing company with allotted quotas from the Namibian government and were tasked to compete to generate profits through fishing activities with the challenge being to do so in a sustainable fashion. Each group chose their own business strategy and sought to barter with the ‘investor’ to achieve optimal outcomes. 

By the end of the game, it was apparent that the ‘winning’ group who had raised the most revenue were also those who had chosen not to fish sustainably while the ‘losers’ had put sustainability first. Moreover, due to several groups engaging in overfishing, after three ‘years’ or turns of the game, the fish were depleted and there were no more resources for the fishing companies to exploit.


A lively debate then ensued in which students discussed the outcomes of the game, their business strategies and which actor was most to blame for the depletion of fish in Namibian waters. Some students contended that overfishing was a byproduct of a lack of government regulation while others argued that it was the fault of the private sector for putting profits before corporate social responsibility

The present public health crisis of COVID-19 and its debilitating impact on the Namibian economy was also considered as a key factor contributing to the lack of adequate conservation procedures. One student pointed out that the Namibian government has recently put fishing quotas on an open bidding auction with the aim of generating much-needed revenue to keep the local economy afloat. 


The learners were also encouraged to reflect on their individual roles and responsibilities to ensure that Namibia continues to progress in its SDGs. Many students resolved to spread the knowledge they had acquired in the session with NYCCC and to continue having conversations with their peers about the importance of resource conservation for future generations of Namibians. 

When asked for their final thoughts, one student reflected that while some groups may have raised more money than others in the game, the truth was that “we all lost” since by the end, all the fish were depleted and “nobody could stand to win anymore”. This insight spoke to the depth of learners’ engagement with the roleplaying exercise and presents a hopeful image of the role of youth in the achievement of SDGs in Namibia in the future

Written by: Kitty Mcgirr (HSF Intern)