The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, concluded a 4-day visit to India with a speech to the ASEAN-India Youth Summit in which she highlighted the unique power this generation has in ensuring the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In her closing remarks at the India-ASEAN Youth Summit in Bhopal, the Envoy said: “Today, the world is home to the largest generation of youth in history, with 1.8 billion of us worldwide – one of the greatest determinants of whether or not these Goals are achieved…And as the most connected generation in history,

[we] are uniquely placed to build partnerships across countries and sectors, to mobilize [our] collective strength to achieve the future we want. We are the SDG Generation.”

Watch her full remarks here 


With more than 780 million people under the age of 35, India is home to the largest youth population in the world and it is expected that it will become the world’s youngest country by 2022. What’s more, India’s young people represent the country’s socio-economic future, and offer a great opportunity for the nation to achieve SDGs.

Marking the start of her visit to the country, the Envoy met with Ankit Kawatra, Founder of Feeding India and one of 17 Young Leaders for the SDGs, selected from more than 18,000 nominations for his work in support of Goal 2 – Zero Hunger. Operating in more than 45 cities across the country, Feeding India is a youth-run non-profit organization that rescues and redistributes excess food to help feed people in need. To date, Feeding India has served over 8.5 million meals and trained hundreds of young people on the SDGs.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-15 at 8.32.12 AM

Ms. Wickramanayake also met with UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, and the UN Country Team, while also taking part in a roundtable discussion with civil society youth organizations led by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP). The discussion centered on issues such as youth in India, youth participation in the UN and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals across the country.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-16 at 8.17.55 AM

As part of a strong focus on youth skills during her mission, the Envoy also met with young college volunteers supported by UNFPA from the University of Delhi participating in the National Service Scheme (NSS) program, a government-sponsored public service program. The volunteers reflected on their experiences of bringing skills training and outreach efforts to disadvantaged communities for peer learning and the need for inter-generational partnerships to bridge skill gaps.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-17 at 2.44.43 AM

Later, the Envoy visited Disha’s Centre of Excellence, a UNDP initiative that offers training and entrepreneurial skills development to women in India with the goal of helping them secure employment or start their own businesses. The visit covered several training sites, including the Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA) center in New Delhi where a pilot training program is carried out by the Disha Project for low-income young women.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-17 at 9.45.10 AM (1)

On the occasion of her visit, the Envoy penned an op-ed for Huffington Post India reflecting on the opportunity of investing in the skills and capacities of young people: “Encouraged by the right opportunities, young people can transform the social and economic fortunes of their countries…In this rapidly changing world, one thing is true—there is no better investment a country can make than in the capacities and potential of youth. And there may be no other country which stands to benefit from such an investment as India.”

Read the full op-ed here

About ASEAN Youth Summit: Organized by India Foundation and the Ministry of External Affairs of India under the theme “Shared Values, Common Destiny”, the event convened government officials and civil society leaders from South-East Asia, including H.E. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, to strengthen cooperation between India and ASEAN and promote developing the potential of young people as future leaders.