Engaging Youth by Youth for the Global Goals

Editor’s Note:  It is authored by AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led organization which is dedicated to developing the next generation of young leaders through professional and volunteering experiences.  THIS PIECE IS PART OF A SERIES EXPLORING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS. SEE THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES HERE

It’s been a year now that the Sustainable development goals were collectively agreed upon by 193 member states of the United Nations.


These goals, encompass different aspects of humanity that need to be addressed within the next 15 years. One thing is clear with these goals, they leave no one behind, but only when they are achieved. In order for us to actually achieve them, it’s going to take a lot more than simply talking about the SDGs — we’re going to have to get our hands dirty and act upon them. All sectors will need to not only get involved but collaborate with each other and form a sorts of the Justice League to combine all powers and resources available to us.


This includes young people.

There are more young people in the world than ever before, creating unprecedented potential for economic and social progress. There are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 — the largest youth population ever. Many of them are concentrated in developing countries. In fact, in the world’s 48 least developed countries, children or adolescents make up a majority of the population.

-From the office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

These statistics can’t be ignored. The one thing that I’ve always wondered is that if there are so many of us, then why aren’t we doing anything about it? And what actions can we be taking to make our home — Planet Earth — a better place for all.

Too many of these young people see their potential hindered by extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information. But with proper investment in their education and opportunities, these young people’s ideas, ideals and innovations could transform the future.

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

Many times young people are looked upon as beneficiaries but it’s time we looked at young people as partners and involve them in the conversations and actions. Different generations work differently and so if the youth of today must be engaged, one must understand how they would like to be engaged.

AIESEC, the world’s largest youth led organization ran a survey in 2016 and collected the voices of over 160,000 young people from across the world to answer one key question: How to engage young people to take action?

To answer that question, one must understand first what they are passionate about; what drives them in life; who are the leaders they look up to; where and how do they gather information; the values they hold dear to them and so on.

For example, when you think of millennials, a sense of purpose and willingness to be part of something bigger than them is a key trait of our generation. In the past decades, the life values were much more centered on the of compensation for your work and the business ladder you would like to climb.


For millennials, engagement isn’t just about the money involved but the cause at hand and the purpose of it. Here is an example of how AIESEC has been able to communicate the SDGs to young people.

Here is the complete 2016 Youth Speak Global Report for details and more insights on the millennial.

So how are we engaging young people to take part in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?

A year ago AIESEC launched its Youth for Global Goals initiative with the aim to mobilize young people to achieve the SDGs along with organizations such as the UN Habitat, the Asian Development Bank, PVBLIC Foundation and Plan International. The initiative invites as many young people, organizations and others to join efforts in spreading awareness, understanding and taking action towards the SDGs making Planet Earth, our home, a better place for all. This year AIESEC has created 30,000 volunteering experiences through SDG-related projects.

Join the movement: youthforglobalgoals.org


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About the Author /

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Niels hopes to one day redefine what it means to be a “billionaire:” positively impacting the lives of a billion people. The most recent step in achieving this impact came in February, 2016 where he was elected to the Presidency of AIESEC International by the presidents of AIESEC member committees. Niels is the final responsible for leading the global strategy, the operations and the leadership body of the organization in over 122 countries and territories and with over 70,000 members worldwide. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-led organization whose mission is peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential. They do this by creating challenging opportunities for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential. Niels has dedicated himself to this mission since 2009. He was formerly the Vice President for Product Innovation on the Global team and before that the President for AIESEC In the United States. He has spoken at numerous events such as Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting and Asian Youth Forum, NEXUS Global Youth Summit, AIESEC International Congress, Efma Banking Transformation and others etc. Having degree in Economics and Commerce, Niels is a young leader passionate about transformational leadership and an international outlook of today's youth.

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