By Ali Mustafa

The last decade proved to be an important one with major developments taking place in the global arena. The year 2015 marked the end of an era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the beginning of the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Looking Back: Millennium Development Goals

The following are some major milestones achieved under the MDGs:

  • Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.
  • The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide fell by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000.
  • Women in 2015 made up 41 per cent of paid workers outside the agricultural sector, an increase from 35 per cent in 1990.
  • Despite population growth in the developing regions, the number of deaths of children under five declined from 12.7 million in 1990 to almost 6 million in 2015 globally.
  • Ozone-depleting substances were virtually eliminated since 1990, and the ozone layer is expected to recover by the middle of this century. (Source: The millennium development goals report 2015 by the United Nations)

Building the Momentum: Sustainable Development Goals

According to the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030, are part of the UN Resolution 70/1 – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Significant progress is going on in SDGs and the progress report of 2019 can be read here.

Today, 16% of the world population is youth making up 1.2 billion (aged 15 – 24) (UN Population Data). Youth has played a major role in achieving targets for the Millennium Development Goals and are contributing actively today for Sustainable Development Goals. From this year forward, the world has 10 years to achieve targets for the Agenda 2030.

Accelerating Solutions: Decade of Youth Action

On March 4, 2020, the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation and United Nations Department of Global Communications Civil Society and Advocacy Unit jointly organized the “Decade of Youth Action” event at the headquarters of the United Nations marking the commencement of the Decade of Action. The event attempted to address the simple question: “How do we promote youth action to accelerate progress on #GlobalGoals by 2030?”

The ‘Decade of Youth Action’ provided a framework and call-to-action for youth mobilization, along the three levels suggested by the Secretary General: global action, local action, and people action. Keynote speakers, panelists, and youth representing different organizations, institutions, and countries addressed the issues and topics related to youth action and mobilization for the SDGs. Notable highlights of the event were the speakers who were professional young people from different organizations and fields of expertise including United Nations, Microsoft, UNA USA, FAF, Girls Who Code, UNICEF and UN75. The panelists discussed how their organizations are empowering youth globally for the SDGs with their expertise and what should be the actions of youth over the next decade to achieve the targets of the Global Goals by 2030.

During an open mic session, attendees exchanged their ideas and solutions on how youth can be empowered and mobilized globally over the next decade. Points were raised to include and engage voices and opinions of marginalized youth and youth who the UN hasn’t reached yet. Call of action was made to strategize the framework for the “Decade of Youth Action”.

Jeff Brez, Chief of the Civil Society, Advocacy and Special Events Section of the UN Department of Global Communications; Hawa Diallo, Chief of Civil Society Unit of the UN DGC; and Andrew Macdonald, Executive Director of the Friendship Ambassador Foundation welcomed youth to the event and recognized the solutions and call to action by youth at the “Decade of Youth Action”.