What we are announcing today – an Agenda for global action for the next 15 years – is a charter for people and planet in the twenty-first century. Children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new Goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world*.
*(Paragraph 51 of A/RES/70/1. “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/70/1 )
Today there are around 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world, representing approximately 16% of the world population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving inclusive and fair societies, as well as to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, such as the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, warfare and migration.
In the coming years, the quality of education, the availability of jobs, gender inequality and the situation of the environment, among others, will have a profound impact on the lives of millions of young people. For this reason, they deserve and claim a leading role in the construction of their futures. The voices, actions and solutions of young people, as well as their engagement and willingness to influence decision-making, are essential to face the challenge of implementing the 2030 Agenda and realizing its ambitious and transformative vision of the future —a world without poverty, where economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature; an inclusive world for all, where no one is left behind.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the youth population is close to 160 million and in many countries their proportion will continue to increase significantly in the coming decades. In addition to the persistent structural gaps, young people in our region face serious inequalities in their education and in the development of their work skills. Youth require a higher educational level, relevant job training and better preparation for lifelong learning. These inequities demand urgent solutions, if we want to advance on the path of sustainability with equality.
There is no doubt that young people can provide innovative and very valuable solutions to deal with the challenges that the 2030 Agenda poses for our region, as long as they have the necessary tools and there are participation spaces that can guarantee that their perspectives and proposals are taken in to account. In turn, the commitment to the implementation, follow up and review of the SDGs can have a positive impact on the comprehensive development of young people in the region and contribute to the development of fairer societies.
Young people from Latin America and the Caribbean are actively participating in the 2030 Agenda. For example, since 2016, the Concausa initiative, co-organized by ECLAC, UNICEF and América Solidaria has identified 68 projects, led by more than 200 young people between 15 and 17 years old. Throughout the Americas, they seek to address problems in their communities associated with the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also worth highlighting the actions of the Millennials Movement, which seeks to increase awareness, action and leadership by young people in the region around the 2030 Agenda.