August 12, 2023

International Youth Day 2023 

Girl Voices, Stay Updated

The need for holistic shifts towards more sustainable development practices has been urgent for decades now, but the collective efforts on green transition have remained slower than needed.  

The first International Youth Day (IYD) was observed in the year 2000 and since then, the world has continued to celebrate IYD every year on 12th of August to recognise and forefront the innovative leadership of young activists.  

The IYD theme for 2023 is Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World. It emphasizes the need for “knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society’’ also termed as green skills for young people. Green skills are now being considered important for young people in navigating the changing environment and leveraging the opportunities that it presents. By 2030, green transition can result in the creation of 8.4 million jobs for young people by 2030, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).  

The most pressing issues for young people’s current and future lives remains cross-cutting. None of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved without attention to climate and vice-versa. However, some issues remain more palatable for the biggest industrialists and power holders than climate crisis and their role in it.  

At Adolescent Girls Investment Plan (AGIP), we engaged with our Girl Advisors on the IYD theme to assess how closely the need for efforts on green transition is felt in their realities and what kind of support system exists in enabling them to take this up. This is what they had to say.  

In terms of how your community/world is developing, what is going well? 

I think the development of policies and consensus at the global level for environmental preservation and action on climate change is going well, it tells us that our representatives are caring about the world of our now and our future. 

  • Luisa, AGIP Girl Advisor, Mexico 

I see that more and more teenagers and young people are being involved in advocacy and decision-making spaces than before and that is certainly a step in the right direction.  

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

In terms of how your community/the world is developing, what is not going well? 

I feel that there is still not enough emphasis on sexual reproductive health and rights and that environmental issues are not taken with urgency that it needs. 

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

What would you like to say to the governments and policy makers about sustainable development? 

Young people play a leading role in promoting sustainable development because we are resilient, dynamic, and eager to take responsibility, so it is essential for the governments and policymakers to invest and empower the young generation today for a sustainable world tomorrow. 

  • Nhi, AGIP Girl Advisor, Vietnam 

That the time for change and action is now. We need to address the disease our planet is carrying right now and not keep procrastinating. There is an urgent need to model re-education and allocate large amounts of funding to raising awareness that nothing else is good if do not have a world to live in. Everyone needs to understand that the environment is directly related to all the activities we do.   

  • Luisa, AGIP Girl Advisor, Mexico 

Sustainable development is what will allow us to become a sustainable society: climate change is something that can’t be fully resolved now, but either way the Earth will adapt. The actual question is whether we want us humans to keep existing or not, because the Earth will still be here, and life won’t easily disappear. It’s just that us humans may not survive. 

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

How relevant is the conversation to climate crisis and environment preservation for you at present? What seems more urgent? 

Both are priority issues. We need the awareness raising activities and action to happen simultaneously. The important thing is to ensure that young people have the support and guidance to contribute effectively towards the green transition.  

  • Luisa, AGIP Girl Advisor, Mexico 

It is urgent for us to understand that the climate crisis isn’t just about ‘nature’ and ‘animals’, that it is directly related to human life. There is migration because of climate change and adolescent girls are the most affected in my country. In Peru, there is a big problem with illegal deforestation and as well killing of climate activists. Mining is also uncontrollable and its leading to pollution, migration, and human trafficking. Everything feels urgent and I can’t really say something is more urgent that the other. It is all interconnected. I feel awareness needs to keep spreading and sustainable policies must be made. Our economic system should also be more sustainable for the other enterprises to change! If illegal deforestation keeps existing, it is because there is someone who buys that wood and thus reinforces that unsustainable business.  

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

Does your education system support you to be aware about green jobs? 

With what I have learned in schools, the concept of “green jobs” is quite new to me. Perhaps it will be mentioned more often for students majoring in environment and climate change, but less often for the majority of students. 

  • Nhi, AGIP Girl Advisor, Vietnam 

Yes! My university (Université de Strasbourg) has implemented new strategies to reduce their energy consumption in winter and new buildings have sustainable vision and goal.  Urban environmental projects are also funded by the University more than before.  

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

What kind of support do you need as an adolescent girl/ young womaen to actively engage in preserving and/or restoring the environment? 

Women and girls should be provided vocational training on green jobs, green economy and can access various financial resources for establishing, running green enterprises and many other developments. 

  • Nhi, AGIP Girl Advisor, Vietnam 

I feel that awareness is one of the strongest tools we have and hence capacity building activities initiatives for more people is important. For young girls taking on the climate activism newly, support on their capacity strengthening and safety is important. For girl climate activities already engaging on the topic, safety is of utmost priority. 

  • Ximena, AGIP Girl Advisor, Peru 

At AGIP, we feel that intergenerational, multi-stakeholder partnerships that centre and support the leadership of young people is important for decision-making and implementation at all levels. Hence, we continue to advocate for increased evidence-informed investments into adolescent girls and youth. 

We also feel that the responsibility of successful green transition does not lie solely on the young people. Big corporations and governments hold the key in tackling the root causes of climate crisis and holding themselves as well as each other accountable to progress positively towards the green transition.