The youth representatives, including some of this year’s EDD Young Leaders, expressed their expectations and demands on each of these areas to the EU and the UN, as major multilateral institutions making an impact on sustainable development worldwide.
Regulation of social media, especially with the rise of disinformation, cyberbullying, and hate speech, was a key priority among the youth participants in the online brainstorm group which focused on digital. They called for the development of safe online spaces for young people. Governmental institutions should also bolster their digital transformation, to ensure greater accessibility and efficiency in the public sector. Digital literacy should also be included in curricula.
“We want national governments to make sure digital technologies are used so that those who do not have access to connectivity are better equipped to follow educational programmes,” said participant Athéna Vassilopoulos as she summarised the group’s online discussion.
Climate and energy
Sustainable de-growth, which is the transition to a smaller economy with less production and consumption, was one of the main recommendations of the group focusing on climate and energy. They also called for greater participation and integration of youth and vulnerable communities.
“Creating a new social contract (would) allow us, young people, to join the discussion more systematically, not only by putting forward these recommendations but truly getting the space to be destructive within the conversations that are happening among the decision-leaders,” said Sevim Aktas on behalf of the group.
Safe, green and accessible mobility are the three foundational areas that should be considered in any environmental policy related to transport, the group examining sustainable transport found.
“We (also) want policymakers to prioritise today’s emissions over tomorrow’s emissions. Every pricing tool, every taxable scheme must be heavier,” EDD Young Leader Giovanni Pintor from Switzerland/Italy said.
A rural-urban model of governance should include youth and marginalised communities in the decision-making of municipalities and surrounding areas, and livelihood opportunities in rural areas should be promoted, the group added.
“We also want cities’ infrastructure to become greener,” said EDD Young Leader Katharina Polomska from Chile/Slovakia.
On health, participants highlighted how challenges are not related to one country or region but rather have a global perspective.
Improving the capacities and resilience of supply chains for vaccines, treatments and medicines in the most vulnerable countries was among their recommendations, as well as the lifting of intellectual property rights and patents to help facilitate their manufacturing. They advocated for access to information, counselling and medical help for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Education and research
Greater equity is needed in education, with more awareness about educational projects which provide access to quality education for all.
“More scholarships should be given to vulnerable groups, because this can help to balance the inequality we have in education,” said participant David Joseph.
There should also be increased investment in youth-led research, tertiary education as well as ICT infrastructures. The essential skills young people need in order to secure a successful job also need to be mapped out. The group also called for a fight against corruption in education.
European Year of Youth
In her virtual address to the in-person youth event at the EDDs, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said she was grateful for the work young people have been doing to tackle global challenges and help achieve the SDGs.
“2022 is the European Year of Youth, and the youth perspective is key to building a greener and more inclusive future, leaving no one behind,” she said.
The UN is working to strengthen its work with and for young people, guided by the UN Youth Strategy. It is also encouraging young people to help drive this year’s major UN Transforming Education Summit to a successful conclusion.
“Amid all of the challenges young people face, youth have persisted, and are demanding action. We recognise the hard work of young people, and more than ever, we need the youth voice. Only together, can we transition to a more peaceful, sustainable and equal world,” Amina J. Mohammed concluded.