According to the United Nations, there are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 — the largest youth population to date. It is more important now than ever before to prioritize young people at the forefront of creating a more sustainable world for social, economic, and environmental justice. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development range from eradicating poverty to closing gender disparity gaps, and the technology millennials have are the most advanced and globally-uniting tools to date in solving today’s most pressing issues.
Realizing that young people will be the most affected by the progress or lack thereof in driving positive change, as summarized by the 2030 global agenda, the United Nations will celebrate the 2016 International Youth Day under the theme: “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production” as a culmination of the immense progress youth-focused initiatives have achieved and to spark awareness of the progress that still needs to be made.
One youth-focused initiative that has gained momentum through social media is AIESEC’s Youth 4 Global Goals campaign, an initiative that activates leadership potential in youth through purposeful and cross-cultural projects. Events leading up to the celebration of International Youth Day includes the fourth annual Asian Youth Forum, hosted by ADB, that operates under the theme “Youth 4 Global Goals.” The youth-focused initiatives have strengthened evidence on youth contributions for driving positive change and has increased global recognition of young people’s role in achieving the SDGs.
During last year’s celebrations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon emphatically voiced his support for youth as positive change-makers:
“But young people are not simply accepting this as their fate. They are rising up to challenge power structures… speaking out for justice and human rights … and advocating global action for people and the planet… I stand with these young activists.”
International Youth Day 2016 aims to deepen young people’s understanding of their role in creating a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable world and to increase the engagements and interactions between young people and their nations, hence encouraging potential partners in government officials and in the private sector to support youth.