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Youth for Sustainability

 Youth to be the driving force behind the United Nations 2030 Agenda and “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” – the theme of Thailand’s 2019 ASEAN Chairmanship.

At the recent 2018 ASEAN Summit in Singapore, Thailand announced the new theme for its ASEAN Chairmanship: Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.  Throughout 2019, Thailand aims to join hands with its fellow member-states to create a one-ASEAN that is people-centred, inclusive and forward-looking.

For Advancement, ASEAN aims to leverage technological advances from the 4th Industrial Revolution and build immunities against disruptive technologies. This would involve implementing initiatives to strengthen digital links and cybersecurity, with the ultimate goal of creating a true ‘Digital ASEAN’. Advancement also concerns preparing for trends and addressing global challenges such as climate change and natural disasters. 

The second, Partnership, aims to promote connectivity in all dimensions: infrastructure, rules and regulations and people-to-people links across ASEAN, with external partners and with the international community.

The third priority, Sustainability, aims to uphold a green economy, sustainable security, economic growth and sustainable development.

A particular emphasis is given to sustainable development cooperation since ASEAN has committed to implementing two parallel but interrelated agendas: the ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

Taken together, the complementary framework represents a plan of action for sustainable development through five different focus areas: People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership. 

For the ASEAN 2025 Agenda, five regional-specific priority areas have been identified: poverty eradication, infrastructure and connectivity, sustainable management of natural resources, sustainable production and consumption and resilience.

These priority areas represent high-leverage entry points for action to support complementarity between the Agendas – with the overarching goal of translating political aspiration to practical implementation.

As the future leaders of tomorrow, it is imperative that youth are informed and engaged with the global vision of the future.

But what role do youth have to play in advancing these Agendas, particularly the SDGs?

We are currently in the largest generation of youth in history accounting for 16% of the world’s population. The Asia-Pacific, in particular, is home to 700 million youth. Therefore, empowering youth as agents of change is investing in our future.

By definition, ‘sustainable development’ refers to meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. With that, comes respecting the future generation as an important stakeholder.

We, as youth, aren’t just recipients of a sustainable future; we are the driving force behind it.

For this reason, it is vital to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda among other youth, build a platform for discussion, and create the conditions for active engagement.

So, where to start?

While this seems like a grandiose task, a small contribution is still a contribution.

For instance, if you come across a post about women’s rights or climate change, don’t just ‘like’ it – share it with your networks. Make positive change go viral!

On the topic of social media, you could also start by following the UN Sustainable Development Platform on Facebook and @GlobalGoalsUN on Twitter for news and updates on SDGs, and while you’re there follow the United Nations Youth on Facebook and @UN4Youth on Twitter!

Another suggestion is downloading the “SDGs in Action” mobile app – a platform for discovering what other people around you are doing to achieve the SDGs. Be inspired to join an initiative or create one yourself!

Mark your calendar for the celebration of International Youth Day (12th of August each year) – a day that celebrates the qualities of young people and the challenges surrounding youth today.

Now, get bookmarking! Below is a wealth of resources and links you can access to kickstart your journey towards a brighter, more sustainable future:

● UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org

● Asia-Pacific Knowledge Platform for Sustainable Development: https://sustdev.unescap.org/

● UN Major Group for children and youth: http://childrenyouth.org

● UN Division for Social Policy and Development, Youth division, for information on various UN youth programmes, issue briefs on youth issues, youth flash newsletter: www.un.org/development/desa/youth

● Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, for opportunities of youth participation, recent youth news, online platforms: www.un.org/youthenvoy

● Youth Stats, a database for youth-related statistics: www.un.org/youthenvoy/youth-statistics

● UN Environment Programme, youth division: www.unep.org

● World’s Largest Lesson, for educational material on SDGs: http://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org

● UN-Habitat-Youth: http://unhabitatyouth.org

Stay tuned for our mini-series on Youth and the SDGs in the region and learn more about sustainable development through the five different lenses or the 5 “P’s” – People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership. 


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