Young people need to be at the heart of the SDG process

By Georgia Potton, Network Support Officer, Restless Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are nearly here. In just over three months global leaders will meet and have the opportunity to take serious action against some of the world’s  greatest challenges: poverty, inequality and catastrophic climate change. But in amongst the excitement we also have to ensure that these goals are not just promised, but that in the next 15 years, they are delivered.

The success of the SDGs relies heavily on ensuring that accountability is prioritised in the post-2015 agenda. And with half the world currently under 25, who better to be at the heart of this accountability process than young people?

As it stands, young people are being consistently overlooked as powerful agents to hold global leaders to account. Not enough attention is being given to the fact that youth, more than any other demographic, are using data and new forms of social activism more than any other age group – let alone the exciting opportunities for monitoring and accountability this could ignite.

A quick snapshot of the current situation: Less than 2% of parliamentarians around the world are in their 20s. In fact their average age is 53, and only 1 in 3 countries are currently consulting young people about their plans for tackling poverty and development. This just isn’t good enough. If nothing changes and youth aren’t incorporated into the very centre of this process, it doesn’t bode well for the sustainability, efficiency or success of the SDGs. How can you ignore over half the world’s population?

That’s why myself, other Restless staff, two of our incredible action/2015 Youth Panelists and one of our Accountability Advocates are heading to the European Days of Development Conference in Brussels this week. We’ll be facilitating a session, in partnership with World Vision International and DSW, highlighting the critical role youth could play in holding all governments accountable to their commitments.

We’ll also be hosting a stall on both days championing this very topic:  showcasing the importance of incorporating young people in the SDG process on a local, national and global level. Our two Youth Panellists will be sharing all their incredible work prior to the SDG implementation and advocating for a new generation in the campaign who can continue to hold leaders to account post 2015.

The UN Secretary General himself recognised that the biggest shortfall in achieving the Millennium Development goals was a lack of strong accountability at both national and international levels. We can’t make the same mistake again and we can’t continue to overlook the power of young people in this process.

I for one am extremely excited about the conversations that are going to take place on this important, yet often overlooked, issue. Join the conversation  and follow our activities at  @RestlessDev and #EDD15 on the 3rd and 4th of June.


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Young people need to be at the heart of the SDG process

by wearerestless Reading time: 2 min