12 August marks the United Nations International Youth Day. The theme for 2016 is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.
According to the United Nations Population Fund:
There are more young people in the world than ever before: Some 1.8 billion people are between ages 10 and 24. Most of them live in developing countries, often comprising a huge proportion of the population. How well they navigate adolescence will determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of the world.
Despite the overwhelming number of young people in the world, their access to participate fully in society is limited or non-existent. So, to commemorate this global initiative, young people are urged to organise activities to promote awareness on issues facing them and their communities.
The aim of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda for International Youth Day is to encourage the “role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.”[Source] This will provide young people with the opportunity to be part of the discussions in finding solutions to the socio-economic issues in their communities.
What is ‘sustainable consumption and production’, and why is it important?
You may be wondering what sustainable consumption and production is, and how it affects you. Well, sustainable consumption and production affects our lives directly and is crucial for improving quality of life for all. It is about how services and products are produced, used, and consumed. Its aim is to minimise the use of natural resources and toxic materials so as to ensure that not only our own needs, but also those of future generations, will be met.
Why should I get involved?
Today’s youth face many obstacles. Among these, according to the UN Population Fund, is the fact that “[a]round 175 million young people in low-income countries cannot read a full sentence” – along with the fact that “[a]mong those aged 15-24, some 500 million live on less than $2 (R27.26) a day, and over 73 million are unemployed.”[Source]
In this context, young people have an integral part to play in community development. By participating in their communities, the youth will be able to empower themselves and others, and they will be encouraged to be the drivers of change. It is for this reason that it is important for everyone to participate in International Youth Day, and to encourage the youth to become involved in society. Empower yourself so that you are able to empower others, and together you can continue the chain of change in your communities.
To form part of the celebrations for International Youth Day, you can start in your own community by putting together an event to raise awareness about the issues that affect young people and keep spreading the message of change, growth and sustainability in order to work towards eradicating poverty.
To keep you motivated as you join or continue to fight the good fight, remember these words:
Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies. ~ Kofi Annan