Youth Power Unleashed: Shaping the future through engagement

Youth Power Unleashed: Shaping the future through engagement

Picture of the audience.

Written by Yiying Zhang, former colleague at the Knowledge & Learning Commons.

‘Empowering ourselves is not a distant aspiration; it is a present responsibility.’ 

Recently, I moderated an event at the Commons called “Young People and Multilateralism”, which included networking opportunities, opening remarks from the Swiss Youth Representative to the UN, and a panel discussion with insights from former UN interns. As the discussions unfolded, I found myself reflecting on the power that lies within our generation to shape the future of global decision-making, especially considering recent challenges we are collectively facing. 

The Wake-up Call 

As the United Nations Secretary-General states in Policy Brief 3 ahead of the Summit of the Future in 2024, it is critical to ensure increased youth engagement in decision-making processes at the regional, national and international levels. However, the responsibility lies not only in responding to these appeals but in seizing the initiative ourselves, as young individuals, to harness our own energy and power to actively contributing to the discourse on multilateralism. We possess an intimate understanding of the challenges that define today's world and, crucially, the needs that will shape the future for generations to come. 

Beyond Big Steps – Start Small 

Youth empowerment is not a one-size-fits-all concept. We all have, in our communities, unique needs and experiences, and can take action at the grassroots level. By joining local initiatives, we amplify our voices and contribute meaningfully to the development of sustainable and inclusive policies that can grow from the ground up. 

Our Global Impact and the Summit of the Future 

While local engagement is vital, we must also recognize our potential to effect change on a global scale. Our interconnected world demands that we extend our influence and care beyond geographical boundaries. The Summit of the Future 2024 is a chance for us to enhance cooperation, reaffirm our commitments to building a better world for the future generations, and fill the gaps in global governance. The youth voice is critical to ensure we are represented and an integral part of these discussions and decisions.  

Empowerment Starts Now 

As we navigate the future of multilateralism, the responsibility falls on us to create and speak out for the future we need. Empowering ourselves is not a distant aspiration; it is a present responsibility. By seizing every opportunity, from local discussions to international dialogues, we become architects of a future that reflects the ideas and wisdom of the youth. In a world that beckons for change, let us be the catalysts that drive progress, embodying the spirit of youth engagement in every endeavor we undertake.

Through our recent event on young people and multilateralism, I’m reminded that the Commons is here as a space for multilateral discussion, welcoming young voices to be a vibrant part of these essential conversations. 


Related Resources:  
Young People and Multilateralism event  
Key Resources for Interns at the United Nations  
The Next Page Podcast - A UN for the future  
The Next Page Podcast – Naji Osman on youth, the UN, and building an inclusive multilateralism 

Yiying ZHANG