UN Secretary-General’s Message for the Announcement of the 2016 Class of Young Leaders for the SDGs

Delivered by Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, at the Social Good Summit in New York on September 19, 2016

I am pleased to join in warmly welcoming the inaugural class of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals. I thank the Office of my Envoy on Youth for launching this timely initiative to connect the United Nations with outstanding young leaders working for the SDGs. I congratulate these 17 young change-makers, who stand as a testament to the ingenuity of youth, for their exceptional leadership and strong commitment.

I also pay tribute to the more than 18,000 young people who were nominated during the campaign this year. They represent a deep pool of talented individuals already committed to the SDGs. We have a duty to unleash this talent and work with young people as we strive toward a sustainable future where no one is left behind.

Youth contributed to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and they are essential to realizing its vision. I appreciate the active engagement and valuable contributions of the leaders here today.

The designation of the Class of Young Leaders for the SDGs reflects the broader commitment of the United Nations to youth empowerment and leadership. It stems from our deeply held conviction that young people are a force for good, with the imagination, courage and ingenuity to find lasting solutions to global challenges.

Each of the Young Leaders has shown a commitment to advancing sustainable development in their communities. Their work will serve to inspire young women and men everywhere who want to play their part in making a better world for all, including for young migrants, young people with disabilities, indigenous youth and youth living in rural areas. Together they show that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but are leaders today.

They are part of history’s largest generation of youth in history –and also its most connected generation. We are all linked to one another and our shared planet. I have long said that young people are the torch-bearers for sustainable development. The Young Leaders for the SDGs prove this point.