By Klevisa Kovaci, Program Manager at Friendship Ambassadors

For the 25th time, the Youth Assembly convened hundreds of young leaders from over 70 countries in New York City – the epicenter of multicultural diversity and international affairs. In this spirit, the 25th Session of the Youth Assembly took on the theme “It’s Time: Youth for Global Impact” highlighting the urgent action needed to accelerate solutions to vital challenges in environmental sustainability, human development, and peace – all with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At the heart of the gathering was the call to action for youth’s leadership to mobilize for urgent change in these global issues.

With a program agenda featuring over 50 organizations, more than 60 experts from the civil society, intergovernmental organizations like the UN, businesses, and academia joined delegates to share insights and provide training to take on some of the world’s greatest challenges. During the course of over 30 sessions, field practitioners from UNDP, UNESCO, ILO, World Bank, Columbia University, and many more engaged with the delegates in problem-solving discussions, ideation, and next steps planning.

Through expert panels, skills-building workshops, fair exhibits, collaboration opportunities, and music and arts, the delegates led the change-making process by example through:

  • Pinpointing main challenges in development and ways to tackle them;
  • Committing to save the environment through activism;
  • Determining to change their own consumption patterns to minimize their carbon footprint;
  • Prompting for peace and reintegration of divided societies;
  • Considering ways to translate education into change-making work; and
  • Honing skills such as design thinking for their own entrepreneurial initiatives.

New in this session was the input that the delegates provided into the Declaration of Priorities, which will set the agenda for the Friendship Ambassadors community to make a difference around the world. The delegates discussed issues faced in their countries and came up with priorities that the global youth community can take action on.

All throughout, this special session of the Youth Assembly celebrated diversity through the many cultures that the delegates represent, and friendships that cross borders and barriers. Delegates formed meaningful connections and used the power of friendship to transcend geographical boundaries, and work together using new tools, knowledge, and networks to make a change. This proves to be just the beginning for our delegates and the community, as the delegates left the conference with new inspiration, greater understanding, and action plans to make a difference through embarking on new work for direct results and lasting impact.

Check out photo highlights from the conference!