The Role of Youth in the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda

Sustainable development supports the premise of protecting the environment through development projects to improve the world for the next generation, the Youth. Youth are often viewed as dependent beneficiaries of Development and often overlooked as direct contributors to national and international economies. Despite the considerable spending power of the world’s Youth and their growing political consciousness, cultivation of their intellectual capacity is limited to formal education often excluding explicit development of their role as social and economic contributors. Recommendations following UNESCO’s 9th Annual Youth Forum have uniquely positioned world leaders to shift the paradigm of youth’s role in creating sustainable development.

Cultivating pathways for the world’s Youth to exchange ideas and innovations may be necessary in order to ensure sustainable development and foster innovative solutions to global issues. On November 6, 2015, Attendees of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum presented their recommendations for action at the Plenary Session of UNESCO’s General Conference. Their recommendations included strategies promoting global citizenship through the transnational exchange of information and the development of youth led partnerships and initiatives. It is their hope that formation of youth led transnational enterprises and social incubators will increase youth’s capacity to provide innovative solutions for global issues and foster a sense of global identity. Forum members are hopeful that the conceptualization of global citizenship will charge Youth to become more concerned with issues that impact the entire global community and self-mobilize. While UNESCO’s Youth Forum members have recognized the significance of transnational youth partnerships in achieving a sustainable agenda, they are still outlining UNESCO’s role in these partnerships.

Will they act to facilitate and strengthen existing ties or attempt to re-define and create new partnerships?

Youth around the world are already beginning to understand their role within a larger global framework and are unifying with other like-minded youth across countries. In the Caribbean, Youth are already exchanging ideas. Youth are leveraging aid funds and changing international policy to for transnational mobilization of people and resources. Earlier this year, leaders of Cuban youth activist groups met with youth leaders from the US based Party for Socialism and Liberation. The student activists met to discuss American imperialist repression in addition to educating each other on Cuban revolutionary history with hopes of establishing a unified political front.

Although students collaborated to reinforce and extend nationalistic ideals, the ability of these students to take advantage of international policy and develop a transnational advancement agenda clearly demonstrates evidence of Youth guided by global consciousness.

In other parts of the Caribbean a few enterprising Youth have established transnational partnerships as a means of protecting regional economies. Trinidad based start-up Tech4agri is a youth-driven media platform used to discuss issues around climate change and innovations in agri-technology to “support of the growth of the Caribbean agriculture industry”. Tech4agri has become a trusted information source for the Caribbean agriculture industry providing industry expertise and often featuring industry leaders. The blog provides a means for youth across the Caribbean to engage in regional issues through journalism and influencing the trajectory of a shared regional economic interest.
Most certainly the founding and operation of a youth led transnational social enterprise signifies a youth collectively conscious of interest extended beyond

The actualization of the Forum’s recommendations is essential to the success of the post-2015 sustainability agenda. Examining the ways in which youth currently connect may provide direction. In considering the Forum’s recommendations UNESCO officials must not underestimate or discount youth’s understanding of a global citizen and the global community. Substantive acknowledgment of existing international youth movements has the potential to continue and considerably increase youth’s involvement in international development. It is evident that the world’s youth are aware of their global responsibility and are capable of implementing plans of action addressing pressing social and economic issues. As such,the world’s youth should be considered as participatory stakeholders and not beneficiary’s. Their recommendations, tactfully implemented, can serve as a both a framework for youth aspiring to implement international change and as a platform for youth who are already engaged in doing so.success of the post-2015 sustainability agenda. Their recommendations, tactfully implemented, can serve as a both a framework for youth aspiring to implement international change and as a platform for youth who are already engaged in doing so.



Brown, G. (2015, June 4). Millennials and Their $1 trillion Buying Power. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from
Honwana, A. (2015, November 3). Marginalised youth say ‘Enough!’ Retrieved November 14, 2015, from
Recommendations from the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum presented at the General Conference. (2015, November 6). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from
Riley, I. (2015, November 10). Youth driven Online Media Startup launches web show series. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from

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