As we get closer to the finalization of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) at the end of the month, we can celebrate and appreciate the inclusive approach to their formulation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the participation of young people in the high level consultations that went into developing these goals. From the revolutionary inclusion of young people at the UN, to anyone getting their say in the World We Want survey, it is undeniable that the SDGs have been made by young people for young people. Our future is brighter, knowing young people are no longer left behind.
This is a clear improvement from the top-down approach taken in creating the Millenium Development Goals (2000-2015), and it is no surprise that young people are more involved in these sorts of high-level processes in the development sector. In recent years youth participation has been on the rise, with youth engagement projects emerging throughout NGOs and inter-governmental organisations like the UN.
I think that the SDG era will symbolise a unique beginning for development. The youth advocates of today will be the future of the sector. The grassroots leaders, consultants, CEOs of charities, even the UN Secretary General of tomorrow could have all been involved in youth advocacy processes since their childhood.
This will even be the case for myself; my first involvement in youth advocacy came when I was 15 years old (in 2010) when I joined Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel, and by the time I complete my university studies I will have had 8 years experience in the sector. Since I have seen (and been apart of) the crucial participation and partnership of young people through youth-led advocacy, I know to always put young people first as transformative agents of change.
Thankfully I’m not alone in believing this, because Restless Development’s Big Ideaproject is all about youth-led accountability. We are showing how young people are more than capable to take the lead in exercising accountability over their governments, particularly in implementing the SDGs.
When young people are able to access the commitments their governments have made, anyone can have their voice heard in decision-making processes. Not only are we demonstrating the importance of youth citizenship, I believe that we can educatetoday’s generation of young people to view ourselves as global citizens – all with a duty to bring about good governance in the SDG era. And so, we can look forward to a future of global citizens, who will understand the importance of providing the space for everyone to have their say in shaping the world around them.