Harnessing #YouthPower to achieve the Global Goals

by Lorraine Perricone - Dazzo, US Partnerships Manager at Restless Development

Let me tell you the story of Eva, a high school girl from rural Tanzania who may be leading the very first grassroots campaign inspired by the new UN Sustainable Development Goals - also know as the Global Goals.

Eva has started a petition in her village. At the launch of the campaign she said, "I would like to see safe and sustainable water for my community. I would love to see [my town] free from preventable diseases. I want to see many positive things happening to me, my family and to all of [my town] - if we use our voices together, we will be heard."

In 2014, students from Eva's school wrote to the former Tanzanian government to ask for clean water and safe toilets at their school. They are still waiting to hear back. Continuing their effort to be heard, Eva wrote to US President Barack Obama, and this time she did hear back. In a speech made at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, President Obama endorsed her calls to action.

This inspired Eva.

She knew that at that event, world leaders from 193 nations signed a commitment to achieve the Global Goals - including Goal #6 about clean water and sanitation. Equipped with the knowledge that her nation's leader had made a promise, Eva and her town were ready to take action again. They have started organizing to get what they need. The voice of ordinary citizens will be heard.

When President Obama made that speech, I was lucky enough to be watching on a big screen, surrounded by my colleagues from all over the world. We had just said goodbye to the final guests at an event that aimed to show world leaders the vital role of young people in achieving and monitoring the Global Goals. And there was Eva - already doing it.

With her letter she had inspired the President of the United States to insist to a room full of the most powerful people in the world that the only way to achieve the Global Goals is to listen to and include young women like Eva in the process. Young people can, and will continue to, hold leaders accountable to their promises for a better world.

Many of you may have heard statistics like 'half the world is under 30' - and some may remember that just a few years ago half the world was under 25. This is because, though we have the largest youth population ever, it won't be around for long. The world is about to pass the point where more people will be above 30 years of age than younger. The total number of young people is beginning to plateau and will eventually begin to drop in the coming decades. We are in the era of Peak Youth, which presents an opportunity that cannot be missed.

The millions of members of the Peak Youth generations - like Eva and dare I say, myself - must use our #YouthPower and secure the future. Guided by the ambition of the 17 goals - together we can work hard toward the visionary world free from poverty, climate change and inequality that we want and need.

We can do this by using the power of our numbers and by demanding to know how, when and by whom the Global Goals will be delivered. These questions can then be turned into action. Problems to solutions. Promises into reality.

Eva's campaign will hopefully inspire many more people towards this vision -of young people leading accountability for, and ultimately achieving, the Goals. My organization and I will play our part too; we are working hard to enable the power of our massive youth generation to make the Goals a reality.

This post is a part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with Friendship Ambassadors Foundation following the 2016 Youth Assembly at the United Nations held on February 17-18, 2016. The winter session tackled the role of youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To see all posts in the series, click here.