With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in danger of not being achieved, the United Nations (UN) has called upon us, the young, for help.
On 24 September, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, launched the UN’s new strategy for young people entitled Youth 2030. This framework focuses on ‘empowering young people, supporting them, and making sure they can fulfil their potential’ in leading the change required for hitting our Sustainable Development Goals. After decades of working for the youth, the UN is now focusing on working with the youth, to facilitate and nurture the ideas and energy that young people possess. The Youth 2030 Strategy has outlined its vision as;
‘A world in which the human rights of every young person are realized; that ensures every young person is empowered to achieve their full potential; and that recognizes young people’s agency, resilience and their positive contributions as agents of change.’
The Secretary-General noted that young people were ‘a vast source of innovation, ideas and solutions,’ and the strategy outlines how the UN is uniquely placed as a ‘platform through which (young people’s) needs can be addressed, their voice can be amplified, and their engagement can be advanced’. This strategy is to become a framework for all future UN endeavours, as the organisation looks to improve its inclusion and representation of young people in all contexts.
A number of key areas have been targeted as priorities for the Youth 2030;
- Amplify youth voices through new routes of participation
- Ensure greater access to quality education and health services
- Provision of decent training, work and economic empowerment
- Safeguard their right to political engagement
- Support young people as catalysts for peace and humanitarian action
With 1.8 billion young people in the world, our inclusion is essential in securing change.
We will be the ones to carry forward the progress made today and build upon it in the future. At the moment, 90% of young people live in developing countries. More than 500 million 15-24 year olds live on less than US$2 a day. As much as 75% of young people are underutilised in developing economies, meaning they are unemployed, in informal employment, or not undergoing training or education. These conditions make it nearly impossible for young people to survive, let alone thrive.
For all the youth to be empowered they need to have opportunities. They need opportunities to study and work, to live well and in safety, as well as opportunities to pursue their ideas in order to fulfil their potential. By establishing these foundations we will create a stage where the dreams of young people can become a reality.
At the announcement of Youth 2030 a representative of the International Federation of Medical Students Association, Batool Al-Wahdani, was called upon to speak. She called upon young people themselves to ‘use new technology to innovate, create employment, close education gaps, defend human rights and create peaceful revolutions to help themselves’. ‘We have hopes, dreams, determination and energy’ she added, ‘which is more than enough to solve the biggest problems out there’.
And she’s right. The power is in our hands. The resources are out there for us to utilise, and the resolve to make the world a better place is shared by many. This is why We Make Change exists, to create a place where the visions of young people around the world can be turned into action. So that anyone, anywhere, regardless of their skills or education can make a change in the world.
Engaging and empowering the young will make or break the future of the world. We will be the ones living with the consequences of the decisions made and actions taken today. It is time we took control of our lives, our future, and our planet.
About the author
Alex Baker is a researcher at WMC covering areas relating to climate change and economic development. He is an Economics Graduate currently working and travelling throughout Europe and Asia.
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