August 11-13, 2023 in New York City, USA

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It’s been seven years since the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were introduced. The world has only 7 short years left to make the SDGs a reality by 2030. 

Young people today feel a sense of gridlock; that progress is lagging behind. There are 1.2 billion young people around the world who will bear the brunt of the burden if we don’t make progress towards building a better future. Global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change, learning crisis and surging unemployment have drastically impeded development efforts and led to the rise of inequalities in all parts of life, everywhere. There is both urgency and an unprecedented opportunity to tackle the challenges during this pivotal mid-point. 

The United Nations Secretary General, António Gueterres states that “humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: breakdown or breakthrough. The choices we make—or fail to make—today could result in further breakdown and a future of perpetual crises, or a breakthrough to a better future.We must unite for global action to make a breakthrough in response to these challenges.  

Today, youth are actively standing up for issues affecting them and their communities both locally and globally. They need to be included and heard in places where decisions are made. They need to drive decision-making for issues affecting them today and those that will affect their futures. The United Nations Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda calls for renewal of solidarity particularly with younger generations, and the Youth 2030 Progress Report 2022 demonstrates how the UN system is working with governments in advancing global commitments for and with youth. This momentum should be accelerated to realize meaningful transformation for people and the planet before it’s too late. 

The talent, drive, and innovation of youth is key to achieving a better world. For the past 19 years, the Youth Assembly has been a platform for young trailblazers determined to make a breakthrough for a  better future for all. The Youth Assembly brings together the world’s most talented young leaders to learn, engage, and take action. This conference will equip hundreds of young people from across the globe with new knowledge, skills, and networks needed to be leaders who can initiate positive change on the global stage. 

Breakthrough to a Better Future

Anchored around a celebration of International Youth Day, the theme of the 28th Session of The Youth Assembly is “Breakthrough to a Better Future.” Through discussions, skill-building workshops, networking, and ideation challenges, and with the support of experts and practitioners in the field, young attendees will gain the relevant resources and opportunities they need to become equal partners in achieving change. 

The 28th Session of the Youth Assembly will be centered on coming together to amplify young people’s engagement and leadership in all areas of decision making and action for the Global Goals. 

It is with this spirit that we truly will break through to a better future. After consultation with hundreds of young leaders worldwide, five core areas were identified as the 28th program agenda where there are urgent challenges and exciting potential for young people to make a breakthrough: 

  • Track 1: Reduce Inequalities: Tackling Poverty and Gender Inequality
  • Track 2: Education & Employment: Skills for the Future 
  • Track 3: Protect Our Planet: Climate Action 
  • Track 4: Global Trust: Peace & Information Integrity
  • Track 5: Global Solidarity: Multilateralism and Regional Cooperation for a Better Future

Attendees can either concentrate in detail on one core area, or explore various topics according to their preference and expertise. The program will also consider the intersections of these issues. 

Additionally, Youth Assembly Delegates will have various opportunities to showcase their individual work and generate impact including through the AFS Award for Young Global Citizens Pitch Competition for $10,000 and two runner up prizes of $2,500 eachOutstanding Youth Delegate Award; an Action & Impact Hub, and upon completion of the event will join our global network of alumni focused on action and impact

To further enrich the Youth Assembly experience, three immersive thematic packages will be offered to Delegates to delve into the topics of International Affairs for participants interested in the work of international organizations and the United Nations, Changemakers on creating social impact with a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania, and Climate Entrepreneurship for young leaders interested in becoming trailblazers in climate action. 

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The Objectives

Over the course of The Youth Assembly, delegates will pursue the following objectives: 

  • Connect and engage: Build partnerships and motivation by connecting with influential young leaders, experts, and practitioners from across sectors and world regions. 
  • Learn and develop skills: Discover groundbreaking new tools, knowledge, training, and resources to succeed in their projects.
  • Take action and create impact: Co-create solutions and engage in new initiatives and opportunities to accelerate your impact in local communities and the world. 

The Outcomes

The outcome of the Youth Assembly is a powerful cross-sector and cross-national network (already 20,000 strong across 160 countries) connecting the next generation of leaders, translated into action-based projects and initiatives after the conference. Delegates will leave the conference equipped to confront challenges, seize opportunities, and make a difference in their societies and communities. 

We expect participants to experience The Youth Assembly not as an event, but as part of a journey that helps them realize positive change on the ground in their communities and across the world. To continue their impact journey, Delegates are encouraged to stay in touch with our global alumni community, as part of an international movement of young changemakers developing groundbreaking solutions to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Furthermore, Delegates are encouraged to take on leadership roles within Youth Assembly programs, becoming the change they seek in their communities, and bringing these unique opportunities to young changemakers locally. 

The Youth Assembly aims to empower and equip youth to make a breakthrough to a better future. 

Download the Concept Note

The Youth Assembly is convened by AFS Intercultural Programs, a global non-profit that empowers young people from all backgrounds with essential global skills—and the passion for making a difference. Find out more about the Youth Assembly here.