Young People are Drivers for Change

Recently, I attended UNITE 2030 Youth SDG Summit, a two-day summit to focus on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres once said, “Youth inspire change […] you have the talent, energy and ideals to prevent conflicts, defend human rights, secure peace and realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

One of the topics that I attended was “Young People Driving Global Governance and Local Action,” which focused on young people’s ability to drive change by using grassroots campaigns, advocacy, and social media to influence institutions to change their behavior. As part of SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, young people are the ones who can make change happen by making sure that governments or institutions are transparent. According to the United Nations, conflict, insecurity, weak institutions, and limited access to resources remain vital threats to the SDGs. If these goals are not met by 2030, more conflict and corruption will be on the rise.

Young people are the real drivers for change and must participate in advocacy, grassroots campaigns, and run for public office to ensure responsibility and accountability to achieve the SDGs by 2030. It requires creativity, innovation, and knowledge to succeed as  change-makers and I hope my experience in advocacy will help us meet the SDGs by 2030.

In addition to serving as a UNA-USA Global Ambassador, I am involved with advocacy groups like Amnesty International and Microsoft TEALS. Currently, I am participating in a mentorship program and work with a mentee from Microsoft TEALS and Social Innovation Warehouse. Serving as a mentor is an experience that I will never forget because I want to give them advice on how to navigate social enterprise and lifestyle. Sharing these experiences can bring morale to young people but also shape them as a good person in the future.

James Paek serves as a 2020-2021 UNA-USA Global Goals Ambassador for SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.