Why AIESEC and The United Nations Are Working Together

As young people, we have the incredible opportunity to shape the future and influence a world we want this year. To get there, we must understand what’s already happening that will shape our future. 2015 is an important year. Why? 2015 is a year where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) will be adopted by the United Nations, governments of the world, and act as a set of commitments that will define the next 15 years of global development.

Youth is a major priority for the United Nations. We need to realize that unless we take it in our hands nothing will change. It is on us to push leaders across governments to businesses to include young people in the decision-making process and to participate in creating a society that meets the needs of young people — 1.8 billion of us.

UN Youth Envoy

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said recently, “My Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, says that young people drive change, but they are not in the driver’s seat. I agree – and I call for giving them the “licence” to steer our future.”

The history behind young people as a priority is guided by the World Program for Action for Youth (WPAY), a landmark agreement that was adopted by the United nations General Assembly in 1995 to provide a policy framework and practical guidelines for national actions and international support to improve the situation of young people worldwide. It covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.

To make this a success and push for further investments in youth and the implementation of WPAY, requires young people to actively participate in the decision-making and advocacy to help make the goals a reality.

This is where you, I, AIESEC and young people come into the picture.

In May, AIESEC is partnering with the Office of the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth to bring your voices into the conversation for the #YouthNow campaign month of advocacy. #YouthNow is a global digital and in-person campaign launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to elevate conversations around investment in youth development. We firmly believe that young people need to be at the center of the global development process. That means including your opinions in the discussion through initiatives like the global YouthSpeak Survey that seek to understand what the challenges young people face across the education to employment journey, raising awareness on the youth opinion, and how the SDG’s fit into your everyday life and shape the world around you. Every voice and every opinion counts.

YouthSpeak Selfies

Engaging young people with world issues is at the core of what we do, and at the beginning of the year 2014 we wanted to ensure that young people are informed and aware of what happens in decision-making spaces like the United Nations — aligning  what we do with what the world needs.

We believe that it is our role as young people to take some of these issues and lead the change we want to see — that’s why we want to hear from you and engage with you for the #YouthNow campaign.

It’s been 20 years since the WPAY was launched. The #YouthNow Campaign aims to leverage social engagement coinciding with the High-Level Event of the President of the General Assembly marking the 20th Anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth on May 29, 2015 to reinforce and raise awareness of the importance of youth engagement in these issues, and to advocate for additional investments made by Member States for youth development.

YouthSpeak aims to enable young people to speak their opinions directly on issues that are affecting young people today. We are proud to partner with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to take your voices and those of youth around the world to the United Nations and to Member States for #YouthNow.

We see a very clear link between both movements–therefore we decided to use the YouthSpeak platform to make #YouthNow be heard.

We are happy to launch a video contest aimed at finding the BEST youth video on “Why youth development is critical for global development.”. Click the link below to learn more about the contest and how you can join!

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

We’ve been talking a lot about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) or the “global goals,” in 2015, and we’ve taken information from sources like the United Nations and The Guardian to help you summarize the SDG’s briefly.

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. The SDGs follow, and expand on, the millennium development goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2000, and are due to expire at the end of this year.

What are the proposed 17 goals?

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Within the goals are a proposed 169 targets, to put a bit of meat on the bones. Proposed targets under goal one, for example, include reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty by 2030, and eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day). Under goal five, there’s a proposed target on eliminating violence against women. Under goal 16 sits a target to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice.

How were the goals chosen?
Unlike the MDGs, which were drawn up by a group of men in the basement of UN headquarters (or so the legend goes), the UN has conducted the largest consultation programme in its history to gauge opinion on what the SDGs should include.

Establishing post-2015 goals was an outcome of the Rio+20 summit in 2012, which mandated the creation of an open working group to come up with a draft set.

The open working group, with representatives from 70 countries, had its first meeting in March 2013 and published its final draft, with its 17 suggestions, in July 2014. The draft was presented to the UN general assembly in September.

Alongside the open working group, the UN conducted a series of “global conversations”, which included 11 thematic and 83 national consultations, and door-to-door surveys. It also launched an online My World survey asking people to prioritise the areas they’d like to see addressed in the goals. The results of the consultations should have fed into the the working group’s discussions.

Is the number of goals expected to change?
Those who have been involved in the process say no, although they do expect fewer targets. Many of the proposed targets are more political statement than measurable achievement at the moment.

In his synthesis report on the SDGs in December, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon gave no hint that he would like to see the number of goals reduced. In a bid to help governments to frame the goals, Ban clustered them into six “essential elements”: dignity, prosperity, justice, partnership, planet, people.

Amina Mohammed, the UN secretary general’s special adviser on post-2015 development planning, said it had been a hard fight to get the number of goals down to 17, so there would be strong resistance to reduce them further.

Member states will begin formal discussions on the content of the SDGs on 19 January, and are expected to meet each month until September. Any serious faultlines should be evident over the next three to four months.

How will the goals be funded?
That’s the trillion-dollar question. Rough calculations from the intergovernmental committee of experts on sustainable development financing have put the cost of providing a social safety net to eradicate extreme poverty at about $66bn a year, while annual investments in improving infrastructure (water, agriculture, transport, power) could be up to a total of $7t trillion globally.

In its report last year, the committee said public finance and aid would be central to support the implementation of the SDGs. But it insisted that money generated from the private sector, through tax reforms, and through a crackdown on illicit financial flows and corruption was also vital.

When will the new goals come into force?

If member states agree the draft set of 17 SDGs at a UN summit in New York in September, they will become applicable from January 2016. The expected deadline for the SDGS is 2030.

What is AIESEC doing about this?

Young people will be the people who implement and carry these goals over the next 15 years, and this is why we need to engage them on these issues today. At the same time, we need to help decision makers understand what the global youth opinion is, and how we can work together to address these issues. Young people must understand the depth of these goals and how they will impact our lives and our common future.

In response of this youth focus around the post-2015 process, we recognised that more useful youth data was missing to help decision makers. So we launched YouthSpeak, a global youth movement and insight survey to help address some of the biggest challenges our generation is facing today. Global youth employment and education is a major topic, it is also two of the top three issues in the United Nations MyWorld survey answered by over 7 million youth. We are trying to answer how we can improve and address the education to employment journey and will include topics such as the future of education, transforming the workplace, entrepreneurship, and generation Y & Z. These insights will be collected from over 50,000 respondents across 100 countries and territories to help shape the youth opinions of youth around the age of 18-25 on their hopes and challenges in reaching their potential.

Through 2015, we will be attending high-level United Nations events, representing young people to employers and leaders, and inspiring millions of young people on pressing global issues and giving them a global platform to tackle them through our programmes like Global Citizen and Global Talent. We will take all the 50,000 opinions and consolidate it into a global youth opinion report in July and utilize it to inform decision makers, leaders and young people on where we are today and where we need to go. The General Assembly in September isn’t too far, and this is why we you to take action now, we cannot wait for another generation to create this change.

Let your voice be heard and ensure that your youth opinion will be heard by decision makers. Take the YouthSpeak survey here.

To learn more about the SDG’s, you can view an interactive map here

Ban Ki Moon YouthSpeak

Join the UN Youth Envoy + AIESEC #YouthNow Contest

Youth opinion is a priority for the United Nations, and we as young leaders  have an incredible opportunity to be a part of this change.

Below is the information you will need to submit your video for the #YouthNow challenge and be a part of the Global Youth Voice.

Join the contest for a chance to have your video formally featured as part of the digital surge leading up to and during the High-Level Event of the General Assembly hosted at the United Nations headquarters in New York City (more about the High Level Event: www.un.org/pga/youth-wpay). The event will be attended by over 1,000 people from around the world, including Ministers and youth leaders! Your video can help inform the online conversation and will be tweeted formally from the UN Youth Envoy account.

What you need to answer in a short video [3 minutes maximum]:
1) What are the most critical issues for youth in 2015?
2) Why is youth development central to the global development agenda?
3) What you think a solution(s) could be?

Post your video on any social media platform using the hashtag #YouthNow. The video can also include your personal action(s) or a project(s) to make a positive change for #YouthNow.

Video checklist

  • Answer all three questions
  • Videos can be made using a camera phone.
  • Videos do not need to be professionally made.
  • Limit is 3 minutes, however your video can be shorter.
  • Videos if shared on Facebook, videos must have security featured set to “public” so we can track them.

All videos must be received by May 26, 2015

What winners get?

  1. A chance to influence a global conversation on youth development! The video will be featured on social media platforms leading up to and during the High-Level Event of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 29 May 2015.
  2. Video will be featured across UN Youth Envoy and AIESEC websites, including social media channels of the UN and AIESEC.

Winners will be selected based upon

  • Strong message
  • Original and creative
  • Ability to inspire others and are action oriented

What’s the process and reward? A selection committee containing representatives from AIESEC and the Office of the United Nations Envoy on Youth will review all videos and pick the top 3 submissions.

Submit videos by May 26, 2015 on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube with hashtag #YouthNow and submit your video here

Important links:

#YouthNow campaign: www.un.org/pga/youth

High-Level Event of the General Assembly: www.un.org/pga/youth-wpay

AIESEC YouthSpeak movement: youthspeak.aiesec.org

AIESEC and United Nations relationship: here