Following a month-long call for nominations for the first Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals, more than 18,000 submissions from 186 countries were received by the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

The  Young Leaders is a flagship initiative of the Envoy, intended to recognize and engage exceptional young people who are leaders in efforts to end poverty, combat climate change and reduce inequalities – to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

A Selection Committee comprised of leaders from government, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector will review a short list of candidates over the coming weeks in order to determine the final 17 Young Leaders.

The “Class of 2016” will be announced ahead of the UN General Assembly high level week in September.

The members of the Selection Committee are:  

  • Alaa Murabit – Voice of Libyan Women, Sustainable Development Goals Advocate
  • Ana Saldarriaga – Former Global President of AIESEC International
  • Ashish Thakkar – CEO Mara Group, Chairman of the Global Entrepreneurship Council
  • Begumhan Dogan Faralyali – Chairwoman of Dogan Group
  • David Nabarro – Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • E. Amina Mohammed – Environment Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • E. Kristian Jensen – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark
  • E. Sheikha Al-Zain Sabah Al-Naser Al-SabahUnder Secretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs of Kuwait
  • Johanna Nyman – President of the European Youth Forum
  • Keisuke Honda – Footballer with AC Milan, UN Foundation Global Advocate for Youth
  • Lise Kingo – Executive Director of UN Global Compact
  • Paul Polman – CEO Unilever, Sustainable Development Goals Advocate
  • Porta dos Fundos Brazilian Comedy Troupe and SDG activists
  • Richard Curtis – Co-Founder Comic Relief, Sustainable Development Goals Advocate
  • Wael Ghonim – Entrepreneur and Internet Activist


Successful candidates will be selected based on robust criteria, including:

  • Their demonstrated achievements in promoting and advancing sustainable development and youth participation;
  • Their personal influence within their respective fields and reputation for inclusive and innovative leadership;
  • The ability to command an audience, influence their contemporaries and inspire their constituents;
  • Their demonstrated integrity, commitment to the SDGs and core values of the UN.