Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

World Youth Report

The World Youth Report on “Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), examines the mutually supportive roles of the new agenda and current youth development efforts. The report provides insight into the role of young people in sustainable development in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related frameworks, in particular, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Programme of Action for Youth.

The Report considers the role the 2030 Agenda can play in enhancing youth development efforts and examines how evidence-based youth policies can help accelerate youth-related objectives. It explores the critical role young people have in the implementation of sustainable development efforts at all levels.

Advancing Youth Development

Far from being mere beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda, young people have been active architects in its development and continue to be engaged in the frameworks and processes that support its implementation, follow-up and review. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda represented the culmination of an extensive three-year process involving Member States and civil society, including youth organizations, in the development of specific goals and targets—and marked the beginning of a 15-year journey to achieve sustainable development by 2030.

Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population.1 The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration. While all the Sustainable Development Goals are critical to youth development, this Report focuses
primarily on the areas of education and employment, underlining the realization of targets under these Goals as fundamental to overall youth development. Issues related to other Goals—including gender equality, good health, reducing inequality, combating poverty and hunger, and action on environmental issues and climate change—are also addressed briefly within the scope of the Report.

World Youth Report

Download the Executive Summary (PDF)

Download the Full Report (PDF)

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How to get involved

Youth are the torchbearers of the 2030 Agenda – young people all over the world are contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Here are a few easy ways you can get involved:

World Youth Report on Youth and SDGs

1. Get involved in a local NGO

Participating in a local NGO is a worthwhile way of supporting sustainable development efforts. For inspiration, read about the NGOs featured as case studies in the Report – from Restless Development, which helps youth participate in national decision-making processes related to the SDGs, to The Butterfly Project, which gives young women in India the confidence to demand change in their local communities, there is an incredible range of NGOs all doing amazing work globally to advance the SDGs.

2. Get engaged in local politics

The engagement of young people in local politics is crucial to raising awareness of youth-related issues and demanding change.  Read about the Not Too Young to Run campaign, an initiative anyone can join to support young people’s right to run for office:  http://www.nottooyoungtorun.org/

3. Join Youth4Peace to help promote and maintain international peace and security

Youth4Peace is an UN-led initiative that supports young people’s participation in peacebuilding.  It recognizes that young people play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change and helps them achieve this.  Get involved here: https://www.youth4peace.info/

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Case Studies

World Youth Report

  • Restless Development (Box 6.12 pg 108)
    Restless Development, a youth-led development agency, partnered with the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2016 to prepare Youth-Led Accountability for the SDGs: A Guide to National Action.  The Guide provides practical ways for leveraging youth opportunities to participate in government processes for reviewing existing national plans and adapting the Sustainable Development Goals to national contexts.  It has helped youth in Commonwealth countries around the world to engage in decision-making processes and forward change.‘Without youth power, the global goals will fail’Primrose Manyalo, Global Network Building Manager for Restless Development.
  • YP Foundation – The Butterfly Project (Box 6.7 pg 103) ‘SUPPORTING YOUNG WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION’: Through its Butterfly Project, the YP Foundation seeks to empower marginalized and vulnerable young women in India with the confidence and skills to tell their own stories and demand change.  Initiated in 2006, the Project provides a forum in which these young women can address issues of identity, human rights, sexual and reproductive rights, and discrimination through digital media.  Disenfranchised young women and girls have used the strength of their own digital stories to become powerful community advocates for equity, gender equality, and freedom from violence in their interactions with decision makers including families, community leaders and key stakeholders.‘We talked about menstruation and puberty, and build our capacities around these issues, because talking about these issues in our society is a taboo’  – Tulsi (21yrs), Butterfly Project participant ‘Ever since I started coming here, I have learned many new things, about male and females, about violence and about how much power men and women have’ – Aart (16yrs), Butterfly Project participant.
  • The Goals (Box 6.5 pg 101) ‘RAISING AWARENESS ONLINE, DRIVING ACTION OFFLINE’:
    Focusing on turning the first connected generation into the first sustainable generation, TheGoals.org uses an innovative and transformative crowd-learning approach that goes beyond traditional e-learning.  It creates a fun and engaging learning experience that connects young people worldwide, encouraging them to explore global challenges and take local action.  It offers courses on each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, allowing youth around the world explore, create, share knowledge, and provide feedback to each other as part of the learning process.‘Turning the first connected generation into the first sustainable generation’ – TheGoals.org Team Member