Forge Our Shared Future

August 16-18, 2024 at the Convene Center in New York City

As we stand at the midway of tackling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

The 29th Session of the AFS Youth Assembly will celebrate 20 years of empowering and changing the lives of young people across the globe with the backdrop of the upcoming United Nations Summit of the Future in 2024.

There is both urgency and an unprecedented opportunity to tackle the challenges during this mid-point of the 2030 Agenda. Global issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, food insecurity, and the learning crisis have drastically impeded development efforts and livelihood for people around the world. Conflicts have forced millions of people to flee from their homes without basic necessities and live in increasingly unstable and deteriorating conditions. As a result, today we are faced with a growing number of humanitarian crises disproportionately affecting already vulnerable groups such as women and children. Conflicts are about “human life and dignity of life and how we approach life and value life. Every life matters, and how we approach it matters.”

Everyone, everywhere can play their part. Youth in particular can drive progress for future generations. There are 1.2 billion young people around the world who will pave the way for transformative solutions for sustainable development.

The United Nations will seek to enhance cooperation as part of its Summit of the Future. Restoring trust in people, institutions and systems will be key to working together to make a meaningful impact. Youth inclusion and decision making will be integral to achieving restoration of trust, which we critically need today.

The AFS 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 with new knowledge, skills, and networks needed to be leaders who can initiate positive change on the global stage. 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 theme of the 29th Session of the AFS Youth Assembly is “Forge Our Shared Future.” As global citizens we need to come together to save our planet, our people, our shared prosperity and create a peaceful world where we and future generations can live and thrive. The theme will be centered on solidarity and strong partnerships. “In this second half it’s all hands on deck,” as stated by the UN Deputy Secretary General,  Amina J. Mohammed. We must come together before it’s too late.

After consultation with hundreds of young leaders worldwide, four core areas were identified as the 29th program agenda where there are urgent challenges and exciting potential for young people to unite and take action:

  • Global Shocks: Tackling Humanitarian Crises
  • Future of Education: Leveraging Technology & Innovation
  • Save our Planet: Unite for Climate Action
  • Food Security: Strengthen Global Food Systems 

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, AFS 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 each; Outstanding 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 AFS Youth Assembly experience, four immersive thematic Academies 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, Climate Entrepreneurship for young leaders interested in becoming trailblazers in climate action and Educators for young teachers bringing the SDGs into their classrooms around the world.

The Objectives

Over the course of the AFS 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 AFS 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 AFS 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 AFS Youth Assembly programs, becoming the change they seek in their communities, and bringing these unique opportunities to young changemakers locally.

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 AFS Youth Assembly here.