23 February 2017

Mobilising the World’s Youth through the SDGs

Dario Piselli is a PhD student in International Law at the Graduate Institute and a Research Officer at the Global Health Centre.

Young people today comprise one fourth of the global population. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasised the need to address the daunting challenges facing this growing demographics, including unemployment, access to education and health care, and general lack of opportunities. Yet one aspect continues to be largely overlooked in the highest spheres of politics: the incredible potential of mobilising and supporting young people’s active contribution, rather than just discussing their needs and problems.

Young people are more likely than older adults to become entrepreneurs, have higher literacy rates, and are more networked than the rest of the population. They are the most educated generation in history, and are uniquely positioned to deliver transformative change across multiple sectors of society. Crucially, young people’s well-being will depend on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

YSrport.pngIn 2015, after collaborating for two years with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (a global initiative launched by Ban Ki-moon and directed by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs), I was asked to become a project leader for SDSN Youth, its newly-founded youth division. One of my main tasks was giving voice to young leaders and innovators while engaging with UN agencies, governments, NGOs and the private sector, allowing them to communicate their undertakings, forge new partnerships and ultimately receive the support they need to scale up their activities.

On 31 January 2017, I oversaw the publication of the first edition of the Youth Solutions Report, the result of a year-long process conducted in collaboration with Ashoka, PANORAMA (managed by IUCN and GIZ), Sustainia, The Resolution Project and many others. The Report, presented at the United Nations on the same day, identifies 50 youth-led projects, including entrepreneurial ventures, educational programmes, research activities, and charity initiatives, and provides them with a platform that addresses the difficulties that young innovators face in securing funding, building capacity and communicating their experience. It constitutes the first step of a long-term strategy by SDSN and SDSN Youth to promote and fund youth-led problem-solving, and I hope it will inspire young leaders as well being a powerful call to action for policymakers worldwide.

Read the Youth Solutions Report here.