Today (August 12th) is International Youth Day. It was an initiative first set up by the UN in 1999, to raise awareness and appreciation of the fact that young people can have an impact on the world around them. This year, the theme of International Youth Day is ‘Youth Leading Sustainability.’ In particular, the UN are focussing on the work young people are doing to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encompasses areas from eradicating poverty to achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.
Many people of my age across the world live in extreme poverty. Youth (those 15-24) make up 1/6 of the world’s population. Half of these will live in poverty. That’s approximately 1.2 billion young people. This may mean they do not have access to sustainable resources, because often production costs are too high or they lack information. By moving towards more sustainable consumption and production, resources will not only benefit those living now, but also future generations. The UN hopes that implementing this will not only protect those vulnerable to environmental and industrial change, but also provide employment opportunities and contribute to basic needs that many lack, such as food, clean water and sanitation.
There are many ways to get involved and more information can be found here. Spreading the word, hosting debates and concerts, implementing sustainable consumption and production in your local area and donating to the UN foundation are just a few ways you can have an impact.
Here in London, I am burying a time capsule, containing images or items from everyday life globally in 2016. I am also writing a message for whoever opens the capsule with my hopes for what will have been achieved by 2030 on a global scale. When I have finished my capsule, I’ll share with you what I decided to put in it!
Today we celebrate youth across the world. Wherever you are and whatever you do, you can make a difference. We should all live our lives with the mentality that everyday we can make a difference to someone or something around us. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something, simply because you are younger than they are. No matter how old you are, your opinion matters, your ideas are valued, and your contribution counts. Many people think that young people are not capable, because they have not had as much experience in life. Those people are wrong.
Young people are incredibly capable and have a unique motivation and insight into the world. Go out there and rock it young people! Because at the end of the day, you should not be defined as just a ‘young person.’ You are just a person. Equal to anyone older or younger than you. Show the world that we can have our say, and influence the world leaders to make sustainable decisions for future generations.