What is the Young Leaders for the SDGs initiative?

The Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals is an initiative by the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. The program aims to celebrate and empower a group of Young Leaders to take a leadership role in the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Following the historic adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations in September 2016 announced the inaugural class of the Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals – 17 young change-makers whose leadership is catalysing the achievement of the Goals. From science to food to fashion to finance, the Young Leaders come from many different backgrounds, represent every region in the world and help activate millions of young people in support of the Goals. Convened by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, these Young Leaders are recognized for their leadership and contribution to a more sustainable world.

The Young Leaders for the SDGs:

  1. Leverage and equip young influencers to galvanize their peers and industries in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in sectors, regions or areas with which we have limited existing influence;
  2. Recognise young people who are leading positive change in their communities and sectors, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.
What is the role of the Young Leaders for the SDGs?

Young Leaders will carry the title of “Young Leader for the SDGs” which is recognized among the finest youth talents under 30 for their contributions to sustainable development.

The selected Young Leaders will support efforts to engage young people in the realization of the SDGs both through strategic opportunities with the UN and through their existing initiatives, platforms and networks. While individual Young Leaders may promote a specific SDG or several goals at once, they will be expected to advocate the Agenda as a whole and give special emphasis to its integrated and universal nature.

The Young Leaders will represent a cadre of leading young people supporting one another as well as the broader mission of the SDGs. The role of the Young Leaders for the SDGs will be to support the UN in efforts to mobilize a generation of young people who care about the SDGs and are working toward their realization. In particular, the Young Leaders will:

  • Advocate for the Goals, in ways most accessible and relatable to young people across different contexts;
  • Promote innovative ways of engaging their audiences and peers in the advocacy and realization of the Goals;
  • Contribute to a brain trust of young leaders supporting the UN and partners for key moments and initiatives related to the Goals.
Who is eligible to become a UN Young Leaders?

Applicants must be between 15 and 29 years old.

The Young leaders we are looking for are genuinely leading exceptional initiatives which support the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. Successful candidates will be selected based on:

  • Their demonstrated achievements in promoting and advancing key areas of the Goals
  • Their personal influence within their respective fields and reputation for inclusive and innovative leadership
  • Their demonstrated integrity, commitment to the SDGs and core values of the UN

Whether or not an applicant is explicitly involved with the SDGs, it is important that they lead an impactful initiative that helps to achieve the Goals and/or galvanize young people in support of the Goals.

How can I become a Young Leader?

The call for applications is open now! The last day to apply is 29 February 2020


What is the selection process?

The Young Leaders for the SDGs are selected through a multi-step rigorous process during which they were also evaluated by a high-level Selection Committee comprised of representatives from governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector.

Who can I contact if I am having trouble with my application?

For any technical issues or questions related to your application, please reach out to Submittable’s Customer Support team at support@submittable.com

For all other questions, you may contact the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth at youthenvoy@un.org

What is the submission deadline for the supporting documents from my referees?

Your referees will be able to submit their supporting documents anytime, even after the close of the application. However, we strongly encourage you to ensure your referees submit their letters as soon as possible, as the review process will begin soon after the close of applications.

How can I check the status of my application?

The finalist will be announced through our website, and through our social media channels.

I was selected as a UN Young Leader. What is the next step?

Our office will communicate with you on the next steps via email.