UN announces worldwide search for exceptional Young Leaders to drive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

Bogota, 7 October –The United Nations announced today that it was seeking applications for its second class of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals--exceptional young people who are leaders in the effort to end poverty, combat climate change and reduce inequalities. 

Led by the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Young Leaders Initiative recognizes 17 young leaders every year who are driving bold efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  Ms. Wickramanayake made the announcement at the One Young World summit in Bogota alongside the inaugural class of Young Leaders for the SDGs. 

The Young Leaders programme places a spotlight on young people between the ages of 18-30 from around the world, and across many different issues, who are leading positive change towards a sustainable future.  The 17 chosen Young Leaders will work with the UN Envoy on Youth to engage young people in the Sustainable Development Goals, advocate for their achievement and contribute to a brain trust supporting the UN’s advocacy efforts to mobilise young people.

 “Young people today are not the leaders of tomorrow - we are the leaders of today”, said Ms. Wickramanayake. “Nowhere is that more true than in the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Never before has a generation been so well equipped - with the knowledge, the passion and the technology - to put the planet and our societies on a sustainable path. Young people are the secret weapon to achieving the Goals.”

Today, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 15-24—they are the largest generation of youth in history. Their numbers are expected to grow: between 2015 and 2030 alone, about 1.9 billion young people are projected to turn 15 years old.  

“In order to achieve the SDGs, we must engage a generation of young people who know about the Goals, care about their success and actively works toward their realization,” the UN Envoy on Youth added.

The first class of Young Leaders was announced in September 2016, ahead of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly.  Coming from different backgrounds, sectors and regions, the 2016 Young Leaders worked together to mobilise action in support of the Goals.  Learn more about the inaugural class of Young Leaders by visiting www.sdgyoungleaders.org/meet-the-young-leaders  

Until 2030—when the Goals aim to be reached—a new “Class” of 17 Young Leaders will be announced on an annual basis following an open call for applications. During each term, the Young Leaders will work with the Envoy on Youth and the United Nations to mobilize support from  young people toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This year, applications will be open from 7 October to 3 November 2017 and can be made online here. Applicants must be between 18 and 30 years old before 31 December, 2017.

Successful candidates will be selected based on:

  • Their demonstrated achievements in promoting and advancing sustainable development;
  • Their ability to command an audience, influence their contemporaries and inspire their constituents;
  • Their positive influence within their respective fields and reputation for inclusive and innovative leadership;
  • Their demonstrated integrity, commitment to the SDGs and core values of the UN.

About the Sustainable Development Goals

On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, we must all mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

About the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26. She works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action – and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General. More about the Envoy on Youth: www.un.org/youthenvoy