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Sustainable Development Goals: catalysts for the “Change” Generation to take hold of their future

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS PIECE IS  CONTRIBUTED BY THE EUROPEAN  YOUTH FORUM. IT IS PART OF A SERIES EXPLORING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDG’S). SEE THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES HEREThis piece was previously published by YO!Mag, the European Youth Forum’s platform for youth writing and multimedia content.

The “change” generation or the “lost in transition” generation?

The world today: evolving at break-neck speed

The world is changing more rapidly than any other period in human history. It took 25% of the human population 50 years adopt electricity, 30 years for radio, 18 years for colour television, 13 for mobiles, and only 7 years for the world wide web.
And as the Economist says, “when reality is moving faster than theory suggests, a certain level of fear is a reasonable response”…


For a full mindmap containing additional related articles and photos, visit #SDGStories


Youth complexity in figures: filled with angst, acceptance and motivation

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Our youth is a youth that….

…Is, maybe legitimately, anxious about its under-preparedness/ inadequacy, when thrust into a world not of its own making…

Take the example of Belgium, a tiny country of 10 million in the heart of Europe that can be seen as emblematic of a whole generation:

  • 46% of Belgian young people think that their education system does not provide a fair chance to all
  • 69% of Belgian young people think that their education system does not adequately prepare for entry in the labour market.
  • 63% of Belgian young people think that their education system does not reward hard work

In short, a world that it doesn’t see as its own. But let’s go on:

  • 62% of Belgian young people have neither participated, nor felt compelled to participate in a political organisation
  • 28% of Belgian young people absolutely don’t trust the various existing media outlets.

Yet it is a generation with an ideal that promotes equality and inclusivity:

  • 78% of Belgian young people think that immigration brings better cultural diversity, essential for cultural enrichment
  • 62% of Belgian young people don’t believe Belgians should have priority picks in the labour market in a high-unemployment scenario.
  • 68% of Belgian French-speaking young people think that men-women equity has yet to be achieved.

A generation that is motivated, excited and searching for self-fulfillment:

  • 69% of Belgian young people think that working is essential to their happiness (compared to 59% only for those surveyed > 34 y.o.)
  • 41% of Belgian young people find themselves fulfilled in their work

A worldwide response needed for 2030: Youth, let us not miss the call.


Related Article: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE SDGs


 The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The world is getting increasingly complex, thanks to the sheer amount of information growing exponentially, along with faster emergence of tipping points & extremes. In such conditions, only 24% of Belgian youth judge themselves able to lead better lives than their parents, while 45% believe that their own children will exist in an even worse-off world. Again, statistics that reflect a situation that goes well beyond Belgium.

A great urgency, felt by youth, and confirmed by international bodies, led the latter to the Agenda 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes 17 goals, that aspire to leave no-one behind… Indeed, those 17 ambitious goals cannot afford to leave anyone behind, if we want to leave a live-able earth to future generations.

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PHOTO CREDIT:  YO! Mag

The SDGs: for youth to take (back) in charge their vision of the future – no more “Transition”!

Our ambitious SDGs have no chance of being achieved without half of the global population. Moreover, the SDGs are meaningless if they do not achieve the aim of “leave no one behind”…. Youth represents 50% of our global population, and could be a sustainable development solution task-force to be reckoned with. This non-negligible demographic are the “torch-bearers” and the heirs of our future. Youth rising to become a main actor in the Agenda 2030 is the most direct way for them to harness their future.

Let us start today with listening, consulting and collaborating with youth on their vision, and a common future. Let us start now to include youth in their OWN decisions, in order to ease angst, and mold the “transition” generation into a truly (pro-) active generation of “change”. Let us foster from now on 2030 citizens that are involved, comfortable and in agreement with their world. Let us begin this dream with youth, because the SDGs, with objectives spanning equity, climate change, sustainable consumption, etc should be learned and assimilated as soon as possible.

Youth, allow yourself at the very moment to dream and act for the future – for the best impact possible. Let us raise our voice, spotlight how we already are a solution for sustainable development, and continue coming up with concrete actions!


Recommended Reading: 17 WAYS YOUNG PEOPLE ARE CHANGING THE WORLD


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Authored by: Annie David, Belgian UN Youth Delegate for Sustainable Development For the Belgian French-Speaking Youth Council.
THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF OUR SERIES ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) – #SDGSTORIES. FOLLOW THE STORIES WITH #SDGSTORIES AND LOOK FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT TO OUR SERIES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ACHIEVING THE SDGS ACROSS THE GLOBE. WE CAN ACHIEVE THEM, AND WE MUST.
Feature Photo Credit:  UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan (right) and High Level Supporter Evanna Lynch at a UN Youth Event.  Photo Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
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