The population of young people (ages 10 to 24) is the most it has ever been in history,  and according to the United Nations (UN), 90% of the youth are in the poorest countries - with more than 500 million living with less than $ 2 a day.

The youth play a key role in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), because they are drivers of change, have the energy and dynamism to work and can be resilient in many situations. 30 young people gathered in Manaus city during Amazon Day 2017 as the third event led by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth Amazonia, partnering with members and local partners from Amazon Basin countries.

This event was about celebrating each other’s successes, and discussing youth initiatives focused on the implementation of the SDGs. Institutions such as Impact Hub Manaus, Mana Institute, Global Shapers, AIESEC and Engajamundo took part, sharing actions they develop on Sustainable Development, with the aim to highlight the importance of engaging the youth in this process.

Global Shapers Community - a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change spoke strongly on the importance of youth playing a role in the sustainable development space. An important point was highlighted by their representative: “we need to develop people and we need to create solutions that are sustainable for themselves, so people can walk on their own feet”.

I do believe that is necessary to say that if you design only a temporary solution, you are not achieving sustainable development (except during emergency situations). You need to think about how to involve people in the process as they grow, and how sustainable development can take part in people’s daily lives. The first step is: we have to know our goals and create our own space in society - by doing this, we can participate in impactful decision-making processes and, in fact, make a change!

After sharing ideas, the young audience discussed the Amazon they want in 2050, and what challenges they expect the SDGs can solve. The focus was to not only think about SDGs globally but to identify how they can contribute to local problem-solving.

And then? What is the call for action for 2050? Young people call for clean cities, with basic sanitation for all, connected people not restricted to social bubbles, respect to all women and youth, empowered local culture, social protagonism, politically engaged people, democratized and equitable information.

This was only the first of many gatherings to come, where youth will be able to share and learn from the experiences of others so that the SDGs will transform their realities.

Nayandra SDSN

Nayandra Pereira is 24 years old and holds a degree in Environmental Engineering from Uninorte Laureate International Universities. She was a volunteer at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in the development of low cost technologies to increase access to water in riverine communities in the Amazon. She is a Master’s student in Water Resources Management and Regulation at the University of the State of Amazonas. In addition, she works in the Innovative Solutions Program at Amazonas Sustainable Foundation and, currently, is a Campus Coordinator of SDSN-Youth Amazonia.