Torch bearers of a sustainable and inclusive future

Young people, representing 193 Member States, gathered at UN Headquarters on 25 September to be part of a historic moment; the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. UN DESA got a moment to speak to them about the new sustainable development goals, before the major event kicked off, bringing together performers like Shakira, Angelique Kidjo and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Arriving at the United Nations before sunrise in order to get prepared for the opening ceremony, youth representatives shared their thoughts and hopes for this new agenda, just hours away from its adoption.

“The sustainable development goals offer us a unique opportunity to change the mindset of the world’s leaders,” said Carlo Angeles from Peru. “They also provide us the opportunity to engage youth in the implementation process, helping us to create the world we want for 2030.”

Poverty, education, climate change, gender equality and inequality were some of the concerns that these young people raised. “I am concerned about inequality between and within countries,” said Julie Lund from Brazil. “I think there is a lot of difference in access to what people can achieve and until we can level the playing field there is no real development”.

At the same, they expressed faith in the ability of the new goals to bring about change around the world and they also underlined the need to focus on their implementation. “I think it is a goal for all of us to know what they are about, and only by knowing this we can actually do something about it,” said Jilt van Schayik from the Netherlands.

“It is extremely important to engage youth, because we are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today,” stressed Lucia Gareton from France, on the importance of youth involvement. ”These are our goals, and the time to get them done is now.”

The participation of 193 youth, representing the global community, was organized by the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and the Office of the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. 

“It’s a once-in-a-life-time opportunity,” said Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. “I think it’s a very powerful message that young people are witnessing this moment,” he stressed. “They are going to be partners in implementation and they will also hold governments accountable to the promise they are making today.”

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