By Olivia Turk
Almost half of the world's population is comprised of people under the age of 25. Young people are a powerful force for generating momentum behind global engagement, global development, and the fulfillment of the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. Young people bring a unique perspective that reflects their journey and lifetime that is different from previous generations. They can bring energy and innovation to effectively address issues and opportunities. While the perspectives of individuals of all ages are important, the perspective of youth is extremely valuable because they have a view of things for the long term and care about the quality of life in the far future as they and their children will be more likely to experience the result of major global actions and initiatives taken today.
The Youth Assembly at the United Nations is a unique platform created to foster this kind of dialogue and generate partnerships between youth, UN officials, the private sector, and civil society. It is wonderful that there are platforms for youth, such as the Youth Assembly at the UN, to discuss issues that are critical to the future of our world where youth can learn, network, share ideas and experiences, and engage in. Forums like these are critical for paving the way for young people to play a role in shaping the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda through the use of arts, culture, sports and travel, as enablers for uniting youth in a common and accountable platform for action.
For three days at the Youth Assembly at the UN, I participated in workshops that addressed issues and topics such as the Post-2015 Development Agenda, building communities through sports, travel, grassroots youth advocacy, and many other topics related to youth global involvement.
One issue that really stuck out to me was the importance of youth engagement in development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations are a continuation of the current MDGs established in 2000 to address, among other things, poverty, education, disease, and global partnerships for development. Five priorities have been established for the Post-2015 Millennium Development goals, including:
1) Leave No One Behind
2) Put Sustainable Development at the Core
3) Transform Economies for Jobs and Inclusive Growth
4) Build Peace and Effective, Open, and Accountable Institutions for All
and 5) Forge a New Global Partnership (United Nations, 2013).
It is important that these diverse perspectives, including the views of youth, are represented in the development of the Post-2015 Agenda. The unique experiences, interests and contributions of the global youth community can supply innovative ideas and solutions for addressing the Post-2015 Agenda. Youth also can serve as ambassadors for educating their peers, help to generate involvement among them, and contribute significantly to identifying solutions and achieving the MDGs.
Participating at the Youth Assembly also provided me the opportunity to meet young people from around the world. These individuals are working to ensure they understand the critical issues facing our generation now and in the future and that they are making decisions and taking action to influence the direction of our society globally.
I've met delegates and presenters such as, Jessica Matthews who at the age of 19 invented the Sockett, a power-generating soccer ball that kids can play with and then use it as a source of electricity that helps villages without reliable electricity.
I've also had the pleasure to meet Ashley and Paige Alenick who founded Donate a Toothbrush, an organization that collects toothbrushes for the needy so that more people around the world are healthier due to better dental hygiene.
I've learned about the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), which works to raise the profile of education and strengthen global efforts to improve education for all with priorities of putting every child in school, improving the quality of learning, and fostering global citizenship.
Inspired by the Youth Assembly at the UN and my involvement with the Girl Scouts of America, I decided to create a blog called Global Youth Exchange for youth around the world to connect on global issues that matter most to us and to provide a resource for youth to develop global skills and engage on an international level. As the official blogger for last year's Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations, a lot of the material on this blog captures my experience at the Youth Assembly.
I hope to be able to keep these conversations going through the Global Youth Exchange forum, by providing information on global issues and resources that may help young people get involved in global initiatives and programs. I welcome feedback (messages on my blog) from you regarding what issues you think are most important, and hopefully through this blog, I will be able to provide information and resources that can help youth around the world.