We are in the midst of an era of unprecedented transformation. Be it in the context of the rapid modifications of the global economy, in the difficulties our societies face in coping with massive technological and other societal changes, or in the dramatic ways in which our ecosystems are adapting and reacting to increased anthropogenic pressures, the world is calling for solutions that can embark us upon a trajectory of sustainable development.
Yet, worryingly, we seem to have lost the notion that it is young people who are the best positioned to analyze and solve this sort of novel challenges. Young men and women between the ages of 15 and 30 today represent the best-educated generation ever; are more intelligent than the average of the adult population, and are far more knowledgeable about new technologies. In addition, and mainly as a consequence of these other characteristics, younger generations also have a grasp of uncertainty and complexity that other age groups often lack. On the one hand, this leads to a better understanding of the synergies and trade-offs involved in addressing the cross-sectoral challenges enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the other, it allows young people to think of institutional arrangements and innovations that confront the many forms of path dependency which exist in international organizations, governments, and businesses and usually lead to inefficient, inequitable and unsustainable outcomes.
For the first time in history, young people from different countries and regions often share the same objectives and grievances, usually linked with the negative impacts of globalization and poor governance, and are increasingly part of a common culture as well. This goes beyond the usual notion that “all young people are idealistic”, even though idealism itself is everything but a negative word, in the context of the major challenges we are facing. Rather, it speaks of the incredible, untapped potential of 1.8 billion global citizens who largely hold the same ideas about how to transform our societies for the better through innovative forms of problem-solving along the four dimensions of sustainable development.
At SDSN Youth, we believe that failing to partner with young innovators and change-makers would represent the biggest waste of human capital in the history of mankind. This is why we are proud to announce that we will be launching the second edition of its Youth Solutions Report in July 2018.
Like its 2017 predecessor, this year’s Report also seeks to identify and celebrate 50 youth-led solutions that are successfully contributing towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in business, charity, education, and research. However, the new Report comes with a wider scope and greater ambitions, aiming to inform the policies and actions of all stakeholders through in-depth research and analysis, with a view to substantially increase the support that young innovators receive in their countries and communities.
In 2017, with the first edition of the Youth Solutions Report, we offered young innovators the opportunity to present their solutions and take part in international conferences and events, including the UN High-Level Political Forum, the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), EXPO 2017 Astana, COP23, the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, and UNLEASH Lab 2017. We also helped youth-led solutions become more visible online, not just through our media channels but also with collaborations with websites and media outlets including National Geographic, Impakter, Virgin Unite, and Connect4Climate, among others. Lastly, we shared funding and mentoring opportunities, matched innovators with interested experts and supporters, and launched the first edition of our Investment Readiness Program in collaboration with Babele.co in January 2018.
With this year’s Report, we are confident that we will significantly build on our past successes, establish new meaningful partnerships with UN Agencies, NGOs, companies and media outlets, and overall step up our support to youth-led initiatives in their quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through holistic and innovative approaches.
“Young people not only have a stake because they will be the ones implementing the SDGs and because their well-being will depend on achieving them. They also have a stake because they are part of the most educated generation in the history of the world, and through their skills, creativity, and enthusiasm they are uniquely positioned to deliver transformative change across multiple sectors of society.