Every year on August 12, we celebrate young people everywhere and the tremendous contributions they make to their communities and the world.  

This year, the celebration is even more special given the adoption of the boldest vision for sustainable development in history: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By adopting these Goals, governments made a commitment to combat climate change, end extreme poverty, and reduce inequalities and injustice everywhere.

In the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.”

The math is simple. Half of the world’s population is under 25 years old. Therefore, young people are not just the beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda, but rather, they hold the key to its success.

Young people are making waves in every field from technology, to art, to sports, to food, to science and innovation, and everything in between. They are offering bold and inspiring solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

This is true for all 17 SDGs, and it is certainly true for sustainable consumption and production. Youth are inventing energy efficient technologies for our cars; innovative ways to recycle and dispose of goods; and new ways to preserve our water.

Imagine the possibilities if we open up more venues for their participation. At the UN, we are actively working to do so. We are determined to engage them in our work. The UN is increasing and strengthening programs and initiatives focused specifically on youth. The objective is to elevate the role of young people in peacebuilding, development, human rights, and humanitarian work.

But if there is one thing I have learned it is that, the more we do, the more we realize how much more should be done. With the talents and innovative spirit of young people, we can pave the way to a world where every individual not only survives, but thrives.

On this International Youth Day, let’s not just celebrate the contributions of young people worldwide, but also commit to invest in their energy and idealism. Let’s unlock this potential. That is our ticket to the future we want and the future we deserve.