How young people can become agents of change?

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. 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.


What triggered their engagement for climate change?

Why is this generation so committed to climate change? From a young age, they have heard about climate change, they are also seeing its impact in their daily lives. Nathan, a youth, got involved in Youth and Environment Europe, a platform which brings together many European youth organisations active in environmental protection; the revelation moment came directly from his homeland when he saw the Alps melting.

All of them want to make something meaningful in their life, connecting their studies and their interest in nature and environmental issues. This is the case of Alex, who has a masters’ degree in Conservation and got active in an NGO to build bridges between young people and policy-makers at European Level. “At the EU level there wasn’t a lot of youth participation in environmental decision-making and we really wanted to bring people together“. This is how he got engaged with Generation Climate Europe (GCE), an environmental coalition of the main youth-led organisations and networks active at the European level.

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:

  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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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:



Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development | United Nations For Youth. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2022, from

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