Today and tomorrow, young leaders will join together for the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth, an event that will cap off the UN’s International Year of Youth. The theme of the meeting will be “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.” The meeting is a small step in the right direction. Bringing together youth leaders from nations around the world is an important part of engaging a generation that often times feels disenfranchised and disconnected from the decision making process. But the small group that will gather in the General Assembly Hall represent only a miniscule minority of the billions of youth across the planet, and much more must be done to integrate their voices into the international dialogue.
Nearly half of the planet’s population is under the age of 30, and unfortunately, many of them are undereducated and underemployed. Despite the attempts of many governments, education infrastructure and economic growth have been unable to meet the demands of this generation. Youth all over the world have become restless and rebellious, as the absence of hope and opportunity have weighed down on them day after day. Moreover, too many leaders have simply failed young people, leaving a world that is inferior to the one passed down by previous generations. The planet has been crippled by the poor decisions of our elders who sadly have been unable to meet the challenges of climate change, financial instability, nuclear proliferation, extreme poverty, global pandemics and more. These challenges have been left for our generation to bear and to brave. If today’s youth are to be successful in solving these problems, we must begin to address them today.
With the launch of The Future Forum just a few short weeks ago, we have worked to build a movement of youth that is more informed and engaged and properly equipped to handle the immense challenges of our world. We intend to be a destination for discussion and a repository of research and opinions on issues affecting people around the world. Ultimately, we hope to be an organization that identifies and incubates new ideas and unites young leaders who are dedicated to changing the world for the better. But the work we are doing at The Future Forum is not enough. We need more engaged youth at the decision making table. We need more youth serving in public offices, in leadership positions at their companies and non-profit organizations, in media and journalism and in prominent research institutions. And we need a young populace that is better organized. Young entrepreneurs have built some of the most innovative technologies of the past decade. Now, we need to use those tools to collaborate more and to share our successes and our grievances. We need to develop an international network of young leaders that can respond to an emerging crisis and send an instant alert to youth from Tahrir Square to Tiananmen Square to Times Square.
We have ideas of what an international coalition of engaged youth would look like, but we need the expertise, ingenuity and on-the-ground efforts of others to turn these ideas into reality. We hope the young leaders attending the UN meeting over the next few days will come out of the sessions reinvigorated and ready to work together to build a global movement, and we welcome new thoughts on how best to proceed.