This essay, by Diffouo Fopa, was a winner at the Youths Inspiration Writing Competition 2022.

We’ve entered a new decade with the start of 2020, and the world will be watching as an unseen countdown, ticks down the 8 years we have left to fulfill the United Nations’ Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs). The UN has dubbed this decade the “Decade of Action,” which needs to be defined by a significant global increase in financial, operational, and group action toward the SDGs. The consequences of failing on this are dire (according to Forbes). 

The world has long associated this generation of youths with irresponsibility and risk-taking.  Youth have been pigeonholed into the stereotyped mindset of a generation that is fundamentally evil, troubled, and difficult. The increasing rate of crime waves, illicit drug dealing as well as the generation’s addiction to social media, could all be evidence of those shared ideas. There is, however, a 1% rest of the population made up of the most promising leaders who have refused to join the mob. The influence of what they’ve built as youths in their communities over the years speaks for itself. Young people are neither a problem to be solved nor a component of a solution. They can, however, influence results and bring about actual change as changemakers. All they need is encouragement, mentoring, and belief from  Generation X, Xennials, and Millennials (Y). As the new decade dawns, one group will be pivotal in pushing the world to achieve SDGs. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed this in his 2019 end-of-year remarks, stating that as we enter this decade with uncertainty and insecurity all around, the world’s young people are its “greatest source” of hope. 

Young people have the most innovative and imaginative ways of addressing sustainability challenges. Youth around the world have become more vocal in demanding immediate and decisive action, particularly in response to climate change. A thousand-mile journey, on the other hand, begins with a single step. Communities are the starting point for effective change –which in turn is broad about by changing individuals. Young people must stay linked to their local context, watch their communities, and discover problems that may be solved within their societies using their own abilities and creativity. To achieve the SDGs, youth must be engaged and mobilized to become change agents. That is why they are one of the top goals in the recently released Education for Sustainable Development Roadmap for the next 8 years (ESD). Education can empower young people with the values, knowledge, and skills to take action. 

Accepting the call to action, to be a purpose-driven activist for peace-building and social change, is what we need now—to inspire and raise a moral army of ethical change-makers in order to effect the change of Africa’s narrative or that of the world on a larger scale. A large number of non-profit for-change organizations have accepted and responded to the call to action in order to bring about the change that their communities have been clamoring for.  Generation for Peace, Global Changemakers, Open Dreams, Youths Inspiration, and the Hult  Prize Foundation are just a few of the impact-driven charitable organizations founded to inspire and empower this generation of youths who are responsible for the future of humanity—to make a meaningful impact and build a self-sustaining system indispensable for humanity’s survival. There will never be too many of these organizations since everyone must get their hands filthy in order for us to see a brighter world. 

“The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm, and courage of the young people.” 

Kailash Satyarthi

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