Today’s generation of adolescents and youth present a major force for social, economic and demographic change, contributing to a competitive labor force, sustained economic growth, improved governance and vibrant civil societies. Realizing their rights and investing in their development is an effective and efficient way to support countries in their efforts to address emerging challenges, achieve the demographic dividend, consolidate global development gains and accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals represent, to some extent, a contract between world leaders and this generation of young people. Strong partnerships between young people and all stakeholders are required; their contributions must be recognized and included at all levels of decision-making, including through new spaces for online participation. Young people experience first-hand the issues the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to address, and its implementation, with the participation of young people, will transform the world they will inherit.
The well-being and meaningful participation of young people is therefore fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the implementation of these Goals will need to be responsive to the needs and voices of adolescents and youth, especially the most marginalized. Investments in their empowerment and education, particularly at the critical juncture of adolescence, have lasting effects throughout their lives, and contribute directly to the overall development of communities and countries.
This paper examines the specific priorities of adolescent and youth within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and examines key responses of the United Nations that promote an emphasis on young people and their participation in development processes, humanitarian action and efforts to sustain peace.