Right now, there are more young people on this planet between the ages of 18 to 24 than have ever lived before: that’s an estimated 1.8 billion youth and that figure is constantly growing.

Like the rest of us, they will continue to weather through the global challenges of our future. But, with the projected addition of another billion people to our planet by 2030, and sequential record temperatures becoming the new norm, younger generations will experience additional pressures in their daily access to essentials like food, education, and energy.

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To create a more inclusive future on these and other issues, youth participation in political processes is key – after all, it is the policies of today that will affect the environmental and social outcomes youth will face in the years to come. In the meantime, there are already a number of promising young change-makers actively leading and developing solutions in the form of entrepreneurial enterprises, non-profits, and vibrant volunteer communities.

As the first of its kind, the Youth Solutions Report showcases a range of the powerful contributions young people are making across each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By featuring 50 projects operating in all major regions, SDSN Youth is opening the conversation on some of the challenges and opportunities youth solutions face as they navigate from their inception to operational stages.

Virgin Unite, sustianability, Global goals, SDSN
Virgin Unite, sustianability, Global goals, SDSN

With young people 1.6 times more likely to show entrepreneurial activity than adults, effectively supporting their ideas is something that translates powerfully into the communities they work in.

To show you what I mean, one solution, through its introduction of easily reparable solar lights created local jobs that added over 752,000 lights in more than 15 countries. And the spillover effect of this is invaluable.

As more off the grid communities gain access to light, micro-enterprise opportunities like these can help lower-income countries get that much closer to their SDG targets on education, poverty, and climate action.

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In an increasingly connected world, it is this kind of lateral thinking by youth that also shows their ability to apply their knowledge in areas, like tech, to map systemic issues on transparency in African land rights or resources for victims of gender-based violence. But limited access to finance, lack of visibility, and the additional need for training or technical support can hinder their ability to scale.

In the case of scientific solutions, like those collecting genetic shark and ray samples in Morocco, or carrying out reforestation efforts in indigenous areas of Peru, for example, specialised youth solutions can particularly benefit from the established presence of local networks and collaboration with experts in their fields.

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By aligning young creators with mentors and innovation hubs, and with the backing of an Investment Readiness Program, we can accelerate learning curves while providing youth with the skills and capital they need to eventually sustain themselves.

With this many possibilities for a sustainable tomorrow, why not take a closer look at the youth solutions today?

Virgin Unite, sustianability, Global goals, SDSN

SDSN Youth is the youth initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network focused on empowering youth globally to develop solutions on the Sustainable Development Goals. You can read more about the Youth Solutions Report here or follow the conversation online using #YouthSolutions

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