#FlipTheScript: Five lessons the world can learn from youth
Amidst a world challenged by geopolitical tensions, a burgeoning climate crisis and rising poverty, young people are advocating many initiatives — from gender equality to education, to fighting climate change and protecting our oceans and biodiversity — in response to our fast-changing world and for future generations.
On 19 to 20 April, young leaders convened at UN ECOSOC Youth Forum to discuss “COVID-19 recovery: Youth taking action for a sustainable future”. The Forum was an opportunity for young people to have a voice on how to transform the world into a fairer and more sustainable place and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The two-day event featured plenary sessions, as well as thematic and regionally-based sessions. Participants had the opportunity to share best practices, lessons learned, and potential innovative solutions directly in dialogue with UN Member States and other international actors. What can we learn from their participation? See below 5 lessons to make you #FlipTheScript!
1. Society can’t change without the help of young people
Young people have the right to play an important role in building our shared futures. They must not only be listened to or consulted worldwide, but also engaged, empowered and supported to flip their ideas into action. We need to create spaces and opportunities for leveraging their creativity, initiatives, diversity and experiences. Youth also play a meaningful role in the COVID-19 recovery process and accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs that must be acknowledged.
2. It is not too late to rewrite the script. We can solve global challenges in our lifetime.
Elevating the voices of young people from marginalized and vulnerable groups is critical to identify gaps, opportunities and scalable solutions that will lead to rapid transformational change, recover better and accelerate achievement of the SDGs during the Decade of Action.
Young influencers like Prajakta Koli works with the mindset that it is never too late to play your part — especially if we work together:
“Look out for organizations that work with issues that matter to you. Sort out how you would like to help. There is service you can do in person or virtually. Discuss your scope of work and start small. Every little bit of effort counts.”
— Prajakta Koli, Digital Content Creator, at an interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Prajakta, also known as MostlySane, is one of India’s biggest digital creators with over 6 million subscribers. As an ambassador for YouTube’s global program, Creators For Change, she was invited to the UN headquarters in New York on International Day of Tolerance to showcase her project ‘No Offence’ which speaks about hate speech, sexism and homophobia. She has shared the stage with the likes of Michelle and Barack Obama, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Prajakta is part of Forbes India’s 30 under 30 list and Entrepreneur India’s 35 under 35 for 2019 along with Outlook Magazine’s Women of Worth and Economic Times’ Gamechanger in the Field of Entertainment. Follow Prajakta on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
3. We have to involve youth in decision-making processes. No way it’s impossible.
We need to broaden the spaces for youth voices to shape the decisions made about their life. Young people need to be fully involved in developing and implementing policies, strategy plans and interventions that support youth inclusion in sustainable development processes. Building on the outcomes of youth consultations and youth engagement in relevant regional fora can also be more effective and impactful for decision-making processes.
This year, for example, young people will contribute to the review of the implementation of the SDGs and to shaping policy recommendations at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (5 to 15 July) and other Intergovernmental fora, such as the UN Ocean Conference (27 June to 1 July) and the UN Transforming Education Summit (September).
4. Youth are destined to reach beyond, not fall behind. A better future is within our hands.
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated vulnerabilities and inequalities between and within economies and societies. It also provides once-in-a-generation strategic opportunities to create more resilient and sustainable societies that effectively address issues like climate change, inequality, limited access to education and decent work that especially impact youth and their lifelong trajectories.
Such challenges cannot be remedied by governments alone but also require multi-stakeholder partnerships that draw on youth expertise and youth perspectives from all sectors. The global partnership for sustainable development needs to sharpen its focus on the priorities of youth, including more socially responsible and sustainable investment; increasing youth employment and enhancing skills training in key sectors for youth; overcoming the digital divide; and generating and utilizing actional data that helps design youth-oriented social and economic policies.
5. Young people were born to lead, not follow.
Young people have their own experiences as social entrepreneurs, community builders, climate planetary mobilizers, policy shapers and job seekers and can share their journey with its success and difficulties. Experts can join discussions on top priority issues for youth and support youth to succeed wherever they are. An engaging youth friendly environment is key to connecting generations and increasing youth leadership and ownership.
Acting for climate justice, the young Mitzi Jonelle Tan proves that youth can lead the way:
“Talk to us and fight with us. Silence the room and make space for us. [Marginalized people] are not just anecdotes in your speech about how bad the climate crisis is. Talk about how we’ve been fighting climate injustice for all our lives.”
— Mitzi at the 2021 SDG Global Festival of Action.
Based in the Philippines, Mitzi is the convenor and international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the Fridays For Future (FFF) in her country. She is also active in FFF International, advocating for climate justice and making sure that the voices of Most Affected Peoples and Areas (MAPA)’s strikers are heard, amplified, and given space. She first became an activist in 2017 after integrating with indigenous leaders of her country, which pushed her to realize that collective action and system change is what we need for a just and greener society. Follow Mitzi on Twitter and Instagram.
We want to hear how you are supporting youth to #FlipTheScript for sustainable future! Share your SDG actions at https://act4sdgs.org/
- Media advisory on 2022 UN ECOSOC Youth Forum
- 2022-ECOSOC-Youth-Forum-programme.pdf (un.org)
- Q&A: Strenghtening Solidarity with the World’s Young People and Future Generations — 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum | UN Web TV
- 2022-ECOSOC-Youth-Forum-concept-note.pdf (un.org)
- Youth 2030 Progress Report Social Media Graphics on 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum (19–20 April 2022) | Trello
- Meet 5 women turning it around for the SDGs | by UN SDG Action Campaign | Medium