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We’re 1.8 billion Strong and We’re Using Our #YouthPower to Change the World

Restless Development / ONE Campaign

Young people — we’re the future, right? Well, no. Actually we’re the now, and we’re in a hurry to change the world.

Today is International Youth Day and it's the UN-designated moment in the calendar to celebrate young people. Last year global citizens like me and you were all caught up in the process of creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (or Global Goals as they’re more easily known). We used that day to tell world leaders we will be making sure they keep their promises - and this year we’re proving it.

Right now thousands of young people, in over 40 countries worldwide, are meeting with decision makers, holding them to account and generally showing off what young people are capable of. From a ‘Talent Explosion’ show in Sierra Leone, to a conference in Nepal, a Youth Power Festival in the UK and a peace march in Zambia - each action is demonstrating the strength of young people as part of the Youth Power campaign.

But let me take a second to explain what I mean by the strength of young people. Right now we are at a special moment in history. We have the largest global youth population ever — we are 1.8 billion strong. We don’t have to wait a second longer to change the world. Individually we all do great things, and together everything is possible.

Take Soniya for example. Growing up as a girl in Nepal, her education wasn’t a priority. She was excluded during menstruation and encouraged to enter an early marriage. But she fought back and created her own path. Now she’s educating other girls in her community and beyond about how they can too.

Or what about Alaro in Kenya. He was born and raised in a slum area of Nairobi. In that environment it’s really difficult to earn a living, let alone follow your dreams. But he didn’t let that stop him. He turned his passion for fashion into a job for himself and others around him. With the help of some friends, he designed and made a ghetto-inspired style of clothes, recruited local models to photograph and sold the clothes on Instagram.

And who can forget about Eva? The young Tanzanian girl caused a ripple at the UN Conference last year when Obama referenced a letter she wrote to him. But Eva didn’t stop there. She grew in confidence and earlier this year campaigned for access to clean water for her village Malinzanga. The campaign not only united her community but also gained the support of the world, as 150,000 people signed the #StandWithEva petition in solidarity. 

If that isn’t enough to spur you into action - let me share with you one more historic fact. This year is one of the last times that we will have more people under 30 years of age than over it. This phenomenon, known as ‘Peak Youth’, means that while we do have the largest global youth population in history right now, we won’t have for long. After growing for decades, the youth population is now starting to plateau.

So we must act now. Young people are the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, poverty and inequalities. Two out of three countries are not consulting young people when preparing national development plans for the Global Goals. We can and must change this.

At 1.8 billion strong, we — the Peak Youth generation — can change the world.

Support Restless Development’s Youth Power Campaign today.