More than 150 activists from 30 countries are uniting on International Youth Day to demand action from world leaders to avoid "decades of disaster" for people and planet.
The activists have signed their names in support of an open letter that’s been sent to world leaders on Monday, calling for urgent action to get countries on track to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals — and end extreme poverty by 2030.
And the young activists, advocates, and campaigners are giving world leaders a helping hand in delivering a more urgent “2020 Vision” — by offering it up themselves.
“The global population of young people is rising and so are the issues we face together,” the letter says. “In the next decade, the World Bank estimates 600 million young people entering the job market will not find jobs; and climate change will continue to adversely affect developing countries, where 90% of young people live.”
“This is an emergency for people and planet,” it adds.
Signatories include British activist and writer Scarlett Curtis; Amika George, the founder of the #FreePeriods campaign in the UK; anti-FGM activist Nimco Ali; Indian feminist Trisha Shetty; South African disability rights advocate Eddie Ndopu; and UN young leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, Joannie Bewa — among many more.
Global Citizen has also signed the letter, alongside major international organizations like the ONE campaign and Restless Development; the Chair of the Elders Mary Robinson; and Edna Ismail Aden, former foreign minister of Somaliland and founder of the Edna Adan University and Hospital.
The letter — coordinated by Restless Development, a global agency working with young people to lead in solving global challenges — includes three specific demands from world leaders.
1. Investment in the future of young people
The letter asks for a basic level of financing for young people’s health, education, empowerment, and resilience in the face of climate change.
“Experts estimate this investment costs a minimum of $300 per person per year in the lowest income countries,” it says.
2. “Follow the money”
In order to translate the UN’s Global Goals to local results, says the letter, we need to be able to have the freedom, space, and voice to freely track these results — through open budgets and open contracts through to collecting data on outcomes — to make sure the funding gets where it’s most needed and is delivering real local results.
The letter calls on campaigners and concerned citizens all around the world — those fighting for environmental justice, social justice, gender justice, and against inequality and corruption — to unite and together demand a course correction for people and planet.
"We stand ready to help partner and fix these failures, but young people’s voices and priorities are often side-lined and their solutions ignored," the letter continues. “Please hear us now as we make these demands.”
Right now, we have just over 10 years left to deliver the Global Goals for Sustainable Development — which were agreed to by every nation in the world in 2015.
But, in order to achieve these goals and end extreme poverty in the next decade, it’s going to take a serious renewed effort from world leaders and citizens around the world.
Activists want world leaders to set out a clear “2020 Vision” to get the world on track for achieving this target, by backing young people and listening to the solutions they offer.
The letter comes at a crucial time: ahead of the critical G7 and UN General Assembly (UNGA) summits this year. The G7 Summit will be hosted in Biarritz on Aug. 24 through Aug. 26; and UNGA — where leaders will meet to discuss the world’s most pressing issues — will be held in New York on Sept. 17 through 30.
“Young people are organizing for impact when leaders meet at their big global gatherings this year and next,” the letter says. “Together, we must demonstrate a dramatic course correction. Leaders must hear us and, in partnership, act with us.”
You can read the letter in full here.