Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Keeping that in mind, in 2017, we talk about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and often mention that young people, students, and young professionals make up 1.8 billion people on the planet, making it the largest youth population the world has ever seen. With 1 in every 3 being a young person and 90% of them present in developing countries, there is an unprecedented potential available for economic and social progress in encasing these numbers. It is a fact that the millennial generation has higher years of education, much higher access to media and internet and greater possibilities of physical mobility, yet, the irony is that many of our fellow youth concentrated in developing countries are subjected to extreme poverty, discrimination, abuse, trafficking, lack of information, low representation, unemployment, lack of opportunities, among other forms of oppression.
Since we are the first generation equipped to end poverty and the last to halt climate change, we need to defend the interests of those whom we've never met or might never will. It is only with investment in providing opportunities and giving visibility that young people’s ideas, ideals, and innovations could transform the future. The good news is that we are a very connected generation, both online and offline, and are keen to take part in shaping a better future for which it is crucial that we start engaging as innovators, entrepreneurs and change makers, and not only as advocates or armchair activists. In such a spirit, International Youth Forum on Innovation (IYFI) 2017 was held in Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre in Singapore and included talks on multi-dimensional modern practices supporting SDGs. It aimed at providing a great opportunity to youth around the world to directly deliver their innovative ideas with the support of technological advancement and significantly take part in the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Youth from Asia Pacific gathered here from 20th to 23rd September of 2017 with the sole purpose of finding concrete solutions to one of the SDGs through discussions, talks and business plans for the society. The main organizer of this program, EdConex (Educate and Connect) had the vision to support and empower young people to become the real change makers and inspire the world to participate in the Agenda 2030. The whole conference was based on the necessity for a multidisciplinary approach to the global concerns regarding the ‘people and planet’. There were several parallel sessions organized offering the attendees the chance to approach a great variety of themes from quality education to leveraging technology for development. I had the opportunity to present a talk about the existing narrative of Youth Inclusion and Entrepreneurship in Asia Pacific, the need for quality education and field realities of the development sector- reflecting towards my contributions to the Youth Solutions Report and my field-work in India. Since no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it- that is where innovation has a role to play. It is important for such forums to be held for a cross-cultural understanding of the critical problems we face and innovative solutions for the same.
Kanika works as a Research Associate with IFMR LEAD in India and has a postgraduate degree in Sustainable Development Practices from TERI University of New Delhi. Her current research interest lies within youth inclusion, human rights, financial literacy and gender based violence.
She has experience in participatory appraisals with tribal/rural/peri urban communities and in implementing interventions in the livelihoods sector. Her field engagements include conducting social research in Uttarakhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
She has worked with The Energy Resource Institute, SELCO Foundation and HCL Foundation. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from University of Delhi and is a keen contemporary dancer.
With SDSN Youth, Kanika has contributed immensely towards the Youth Solutions Report and keeps representing the Global South in several conferences.