THE BLOG
01/29/2014 10:22 am ET Updated Mar 31, 2014

An Essential Yet Overlooked Driving Force For the Post-2015 Development Agenda

We currently live in an extremely exciting as well as unbelievably worrying time. World problems seem to get bigger everyday and much more complex, sometimes -- well, often -- even unmanageable for us as humans. However, I believe that we are currently in possession of a very crucial, valuable and scarce opportunity that can lead us to a world in which poverty will be ended, and sustainability can be created. If it were up to me, the new post-2015 development agenda would be a starting point for a new world.

The sustainable development goal (SDG) process so far has shown a certain hope that I have not felt often at UN conferences. I have been disappointed by many already and I feel around my peers that we are not far from giving up: something very worrying. Unfortunately, this process also currently risks falling in the usual trap of prevailing political issues, power games and diplomatic habits over real substance and people. This cannot happen -- we must deliver.

We might have a serious shot at creating an agenda the world really wants and needs. An agenda with as its ultimate goal ending poverty (technically that would be possible, as it is just the system that we created ourselves that holds us back in succeeding) and creating sustainability (again, we as humans created this unsustainable system ourselves). We urgently need to work on issues such as water, food and energy -- both the provision of universal access and the creation of long term sustainable systems. These issues are very interlinked and it will be tough but essential to find the right way to combine those. Furthermore, we should include issues of health, education, governance and equality. And then there are pressing issues such as peace and security and human rights. As you will understand, this isn't nothing. These issues need to be tackled together, in a holistic and integrated way -- not later but now. 2015 will be a new beginning, with an agenda that sets the world on the right path of fair and sustainable development -- towards a new world.

It is obvious that we have huge tasks ahead of us if we want to make real change happen. This is the time for connecting problems, solutions, and people. In order to develop a successful post-2015 development agenda we will have to find a way to incorporate and stimulate the power of the young, of women and that of entrepreneurs. If there's one thing I have been noticing around me for quite some time it is that it's the evolvement of a certain young entrepreneurial spirit that has been solving many things in practice. While politicians were mostly busy playing power games with each other, it is the entrepreneurs that are actually rolling up their sleeves and making words become reality. Innovative entrepreneurs that are focussing on social challenges and sustainable solutions, already building the world we want.

No longer can we work with a focus on short term profits, ego and inequality, which is what our current economic system brings us. Social entrepreneurship is part of a new paradigm that is essential for a new economy, a new world. And mainly the next generation seems to get this - creating sustainable business models is often already in their system. Besides, young entrepreneurs are fighting the battle against youth unemployment with their own hands. Entrepreneurship is a huge driver of change, but something that needs to be acknowledged and stimulated in order to scale up and truly flourish.

So what could countries at the UN do? An action point for the new agenda would definitely be empowerment and skills development so that people will be prepared for taking on the challenges themselves. Learn at school about the SDGs we have to tackle as well as learn how to become an independent entrepreneur. Furthermore, we will need an enabling environment for social and sustainable entrepreneurship. Young people will then develop and implement more and more solutions for poverty eradication, sustainable water, food and energy systems, and health. That's what's going to drive this agenda forward. People taking action on the ground, as sustainable or social entrepreneurs, and as responsible global citizens.

When the UN and negotiators fail at connecting the people who mainly talk with those people who mainly act, we have a problem. Actually, that is one of the big challenges we currently face: how to connect diplomatic UN processes with real actions on the ground. Key to post-2015 development must be mobilization and empowerment of the crowd. Together we have much more power than we think and we can make beautiful visionary goals become reality. But if we do not build trust by being more open, transparent, diverse and truly participatory, there is no single chance at success. We need inclusion and active participation of young people, women, and social entrepreneurs.

Next week I will be in New York for the final thematic UN Open Working Group on SDGs -- after that it will be an increasingly tough process of creating a first draft and reaching consensus regarding priorities and details. At the same time I will be attending the Youth Assembly at the United Nations. For me it is not a coincidence that 500 young professionals will be discussing post-2015 issues and entrepreneurship at the same time as the officials are making statements in the Trusteeship Council and corridors about the very same agenda. What I hope to see (and I will work actively to make it happen) is that diplomats, ambassadors and negotiators are courageous enough to leave their comfort zone and open up to the ideas of the young people and entrepreneurs who are present, and see how we can help you. Actually, this can be done at the UNHQ, but just as much in capitals and online. Reach out to the next generation and get inspired by the potential of social entrepreneurship. We want to help. We want to join. And you can't succeed without us being part of it. We need to do this together.

I believe in my generation. Even more I believe in collaboration between people, cultures, and different generations. I believe in a new global partnership. But don't forget it should be a partnership to forge with all people, not only with heads of state and government. Let us -- the next generation -- help you to create a better future for our (grand)children and make this new development agenda a true success. Only if we work together, we will succeed on the long term. Because how old will you be in 2030?