International Youth Day

International Youth Day, August 12 2015

by Zachary Thomas

In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.
— Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This year, International Youth Day takes place on Wednesday, August 12 which happens to be the same day as the first official day of the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. International Youth Day was started to recognize that “The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development.” This year’s theme is ‘Youth Civic Engagement’ which happens to be a most convenient coincidence since that is what the Millennium Campus Network is all about. Youth Civic Engagement is one of the main goals of the United Nations ‘System-Wide Action Plan on Youth’, also known as Youth-SWAP, a program that aims to “promote young people’s effective inclusive civic engagement at all levels.” As the United Nations prepares itself to adopt the post-2015 agenda, it continues to emphasize youth’s role in the proliferation of these Sustainable Development goals and in the overall success of global development and social justice efforts.

We at the Millennium Campus Network are taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate International Youth Day 2015 because we, much like the United Nations, see the role youth have in the outcome of not only the post-2015 agenda the United Nations is proposing but additionally numerous efforts being made for social justice, global development and global health initiatives. Youth are the vehicles for change in our complex and diverse world. We encourage youth to reconstruct paradigms that perpetuate the inequality that they see, to build solidarity amongst each other, and from this, to incite action as a collective force for change. By working in solidarity as sidekicks, supporting those we aim to assist and ensuring that their needs are met on their terms, youth can initiate change in the world around them.

The millennial generation is a generation of the passionate, of the driven and of the unified. The millennial generation does not have all the answers; what it does have is a vision on how the world ought to be. These youth continue to dream, to be inspired, to have passions, and to act on them. The goal of the United Nations (and of MCN) is for “young people [to] be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.” Happy International Youth Day!