Youth Play A Vital Role in Advancing Sustainable Development Goals

UNRC National SDG Secretariat and Youth SDG Coalition
By :
Rosa Malango, Laban Musinguzi and Mercy Kayodi

“The 2020 International Youth Day seeks to put the spotlight on youth engagement at local /community level; the national level and at the global level”

On 12 August, we commemorate International Youth Day. It’s a day that every nation on Earth should take seriously, including Uganda who has the world’s second youngest population.

Some people say the youth are the present; others say they are the future. Some say they are both. What is very clear is that the role of the youth in contributing to a better present and determining the future we want, is critical. Enter Uganda’s youth, which make up more than 70% of the country’s population.

For all United Nations Member States, a critical milestone for the future is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This ambitious shared agenda is embodied in 17 Goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators. This universal agenda hinges on two premises: “Leave No One Behind” and “Reach the Furthest First”.

We must all play our roles to achieve these promises and inspire the next generation. This year’s International Youth Day commemoration comes during an unprecedented global crisis. We are all affected, regardless of race, gender, religion, age or nationality. Young and older people are at risk, and we are all willing to do everything possible to save our lives, our livelihoods and the planet. We need positive mindsets to move forward. We need innovative solutions to develop a sustainable post-COVID19 society and economy.

The theme of International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at local, national and global levels are enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement can be significantly enhanced.

In Uganda, the Youth Coalition for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in close partnership with the Government and the United Nations, have kicked off the One Million Youth SDGs Solutions Innovation Challenge. This challenge seeks to collect sustainable solutions that can make a difference in people’s daily lives from one million youth across the country. Mbarara, Moroto, Gulu, Arua and Kampala are some of the locations where dialogues with the media are underway.

Already, hundreds of youth have registered their interest and continue to do so through Our solutions will be vetted by a panel of judges in order to determine which ones can benefit from existing facilities to support young entrepreneurs and innovators.

2020 is a special year. In October, Uganda will mark 58 years of independence and the United Nations will be marking 75 years of existence. These anniversaries must count for something. The UN is using this as an opportunity to hear the voices of people around the world through a survey at

For Uganda, this will be an opportunity to showcase youth SDG solutions received through the innovation challenge and hear the voice of other Ugandans on how the UN can help the world become a better place for all.

The COVID-19 crisis, climate change and all the other challenges we face as a people and a planet are rooted in the need to strengthen the capacity of the international system to act in concert and implement solutions. The engagement of youth in solutions will contribute to restore trust in public institutions, especially among the youth themselves.

Now, more than ever, we must work together. This article is co-signed by two young Ugandan emerging leaders and the UN Resident Coordinator. This is one of the ways to pay tribute to the endless heroism of youth, as mentioned by Nelson Mandela.

The SDGs, as technical as they may sound, are really about our shared humanity and prosperity – livelihoods which ensure food on our tables, health and wellbeing for our survival, quality education, gender equality, a stable environment, peace and justice. Only together can we achieve sustainable development and peace without destroying the environment.

Ms. Rosa Malango is the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda
Mr. Laban Musinguzi is the Executive Director at Smart Life Experiences Initiative
Ms. Mercy Kayodi is a Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassador

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