It has been more than a five since the 2030 Youth Force was established by 19 young leaders from Asia and the Pacific, sparking a youth- and volunteer-led movement that would engage young people in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also referred to as ‘Global Goals’).
Since then, this group of young women and young men has been actively expanding the regional network, creating their own national chapters and raising awareness on how the SDGs relate to individuals and their communities, as well as how youth can take action to contribute to achieving the Global Goals. Today, the network consists of active chapters in seven countries in the region and has over 5000 members. Most of the chapters also have sub-national or provincial branches to bring the initiative into contexts more relevant to each community.
2030 Youth Force activities include organizing trainings and workshops for young people, attending and speaking at conferences and events with youth and partners from the UN and governments, and participating in global advocacy campaigns for the SDGs, such as the International Youth Day, which is celebrated every year on 12 August. The 2030 Youth Force chapters have been supporting each other at the local, national and regional level, exchanging best practices and knowledge, and building a momentum of youth engagement in the SDGs implementation in the region.
Not all national chapters work the same: The young leaders have explored what works best in their local environment and are using creative means and methods to reach and engage young people from their communities in the SDGs. The 2030 Youth Force chapters successfully demonstrate adaptation and localization of the international SDG framework at a local and community level.
The 2030 Youth Force chapter in Indonesia, for example, focuses on SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. Rizky Ashar Mrdn, one of the 19 young founders of the 2030 Youth Force, describes their commitment to supporting marginalized groups: “We encourage youth to promote the Global Goals with actions that lead to positive change towards an inclusive and peaceful society in Indonesia. We have invited young people from diverse groups, such as persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV, or the LGBT community to participate in all of our activities.”
In the Philippines, the 2030 Youth Force has been using both offline and online activities to raise awareness among young Filipinos. Social media platforms have been a catalyzer not only to engage but also to create more opportunities for the network. Jules Guiang, another member of the original 19 young founders of the Youth Force, describes their successes: “Starting with one Facebook post asking if anyone would be interested in working on the SDGs and their implementation, we are now partnering with the University of the Philippines to air an online youth show on the university’s online TV platform, TVUP. The show ‘2030’ will specifically focus on discussing sustainable development and the Global Goals in the context of the Philippines. Our first episode will air in September.”
The “OnTheWheels” SDG Caravan is another activity tailored to young people that will be launched soon, bringing the SDGs to key locations in the Philippines. It “will equip our young participants with important information about the Global Goals, as well as present and incubate ideas and solutions to address local problems”, he explains.
While SDG 17 “Partnerships for Implementation” is one of the key goals of the 2030 Youth Force with many chapters cooperating with governments, UN agencies and academic institutions, the 2030 Youth Force chapter in Viet Nam has also been collaborating successfully with local and international civil society organizations, as well as the private sector. Youth leader Xin Cao highlights that, since its foundation, the “2030 Youth Force in Viet Nam attracted a lot of attention from several local and international NGOs for mutual collaboration. We are currently a Communication Sponsor of ‘Narrow The Gap’ campaign by LIN Center for Community Development, a local NGO in Vietnam.” She adds, “We are partnering with HATCH! VENTURES, a Vietnamese leading startup ecosystem builder for the SDG Challenge 2017, the SDG Youth Scholarship 2017 and the big ‘HATCH! Fair the Fifth’ event to create more opportunities for youth.”
In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV is proud to support these active young change makers’ initiatives, echoing the motto of the SDGs “Leaving No One Behind”. While UNDP and UNV have provided the platform for them to establish the 2030 Youth Force, these young women and men are the ones who are taking on ownership and leadership of the movement. Their passion, energy and creativity have been a source of inspiration for stakeholders, including UN agencies, and there is large potential for further expanding the Youth Force to engage even more young people towards 2030 and beyond.