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International Youth Day at the U.N.

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

by Daniela Uribe ​Student, Seton Hall University ,School of Diplomacy and International Relations


In 1999 the General Assembly declared August 12 International Youth Day, an opportunity to celebrate young peoples’ views and initiatives. Celebrations at the United Nations Headquarters and around the world recognize the importance of youth in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The International Youth Day was an incredible commemoration event at the UN in New York -this year. Students, scholars and young entrepreneurs from across the country gathered together to celebrate and share their passion and efforts to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. 

The theme, "The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production", sought to inspire youth to have an active and consistent engagement to eradicate poverty by understanding the production of products and changing to more sustainable patterns of consumption. 

During the event the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, explained the vital importance of action needed from young people to accomplish Agenda 2030 by standing, “There are 17 goals and 15 years, we have no time to waste. Make concrete actions to see change.”

The theme is linked to Sustainable Development Goal 12, "Responsible Consumption and Production".  Terminology such as extraction, production, consumption and disposal was explained and discussed by prominent students and young entrepreneurs who are seeking to inspire and engage more youth in climate justice and responsible consumption. Usually, consumers are not aware of the process behind each product they purchase, not even how much waste could possibly generate after being consumed. Jesse Mc,Elwain, a representative of Cornell University Sustainable Design, raised the question: What does dollar you are investing on a product means for the future of the world? Is it beneficial for the environment or just for you? Changes in consumption can reduce negative outcomes on climate change by choosing more green consumption choices. In some cases, green choices could not be affordable for those living in poverty. However, according to Lauren Singer, a founder of the Simply Co, a company that makes products that are sustainable and safe for the environment, said that zero waste and sustainable products save more money than regular products. The issue is the lack of information about green products accessible in the market. In addition, Ms. Singer emphasized living your values in your daily choices. Sometimes we play “the blame game” to industries and do a lot advocacy work with congress representatives to stop companies from producing more products that will harm the environment, but we don’t do anything about the way we carry our lifestyle. “I couldn’t live with a double standard anymore. That’s why I decided to create my company and create products that take care of our bodies, home and environment to reduce climate change”. In closing, the panelists challenged the youth to learn more about the issues that are affecting the world and challenge their personal life style to make a change. Challenge others to join, engage in their communities and have confidence in what they are doing because people who change the world are convinced of their passions and the change they want to see in the future.

“Like our ‘madres’, it is the only one we have. Take care of her” Savon Bartley, Chicago poet and writer.