This past December, young leaders came together in the legendary land of possibility, New York City. AIESEC’s Youth Action Summit summoned the youth world and the business world to the United Nations Headquarters for a three day summit which aims to discuss and create an agenda which will define youth implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As the first day of the summit came to a close, we wanted to highlight four signs that we noticed which indicate that young people are absolutely ready and able to change our world.
80 million people classify as what we define as “millennial” (born between 1985-1993). This is the largest generation of any in the world. 50% of the world’s population in 2015 is under the age of 30. Statistically speaking, we make up a disproportionately large portion of the global ecosystem. Young people want their opinions and insights to count for something, and we’ve got the numbers to back us up.
Youth movements are not uncommon. Across the world, young people have shown that they have the ability to make serious changes by using their voices. With the rise of young leaders such as Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and Joshua Wong in Hong Kong, we have proven that we have the power to make a political difference. Additionally, young people are incredibly active in the digital world, with the rise of YouTube, Instagram, and Vine stars creating a new category of youth leadership: influencer. The digital ecosystem has changed the way youth leaders rise and communicate, leading me to the next point.
In our increasingly digital age, young people have not only a technological advantage, but a technological lifestyle. We are digital natives – meaning that we have been raised in a world of tweets, Facebook posts, computers, and iPods. Unlike those before us, who are the new “digital immigrants,” tech is unparalleled in our hands, because we are able to easily adapt to and learn new systems. As I mentioned, the power of social platforms is showcased daily by young people. Whether a crowdfunding page for someone’s volunteer project, a tweet which is retweeted by millions, an online petition signed by thousands which leads to political change, or a YouTube video viewed by over 20 million people, young people now have the ability to communicate in mass, globally. And we do.
As young people, we are often faced with tremendous emotional and social pressure. Whether we are coming of age in a diverse university or college or growing up without the opportunity of higher education, we become incredibly in touch with humanity. We are at the peak of uncomfortable adjustment, and it gives us an incredibly unique perspective. We are not afraid of change. We live change daily. Nothing is certain for us, and that allows us to imagine and ideate things which people who have been settled in routine for years cannot see. We are known for a desire to switch jobs frequently, and for a need to feel that our values connect to our work. For this reason, we are passionate and innovative in a way that no other generation can match.
Do you believe that youth leaders are going to be the ones who shape the world? We do.