Youth-led accountability for the SDGs

Youth-led accountability for the SDGs

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have set out an ambitious agenda for global development for the next fifteen years, leading up to 2030. Empowering young people to hold governments and duty-bearers accountable is one of the most important means of implementation for an agenda that “leaves no one behind”.

More than half the world is currently under the age of 30 but decision-making processes largely remain in the hands of older generations. Young people, particularly young women, are not adequately represented in formal political processes or institutions - including parliaments, political parties, elections, and public administrations. Young people are also among the hardest hit by the effects of poverty, climate change and inequality.

Despite these barriers to participation in formal or conventional spaces, young people are frequently at the forefront of change and development, such as mass citizen and digital activism. Where traditional structures are failing to include them, young people are finding new ways to engage. Youth have driven many of the high impact social movements of recent years (e.g. on climate change and inequality) characterised by self-organising and the innovative use of new technologies. Youth-led action can help governments fill gaps in implementation, follow-up and monitoring, as well as programmes and policy.

Key principles to enable youth-led accountability: inclusion, responsiveness, collaboration, transparency:

  • inclusion: actively engaging the most marginalised young people to promote social and political inclusion and ensuring effective opportunities and resources (information, capacities) to participate in the accountability processes
  • responsiveness: government officials listening, responding to and acting upon the inputs of young people
  • collaboration: governments and stakeholders working actively with young people through mechanisms and structures that encourage interaction and discourse
  • transparency: young people having access to government data relevant to their policy focus areas. Political processes are widely publicised and communicated
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