Young people are eager to use their skills to improve local communities, help those in greatest need, and promote environmental sustainability. Development organizations including ADB, are beginning to see the valuable role that the youth play in driving the 2030 Agenda.


“It's imperative that we work with the youth the timing is actually quite ripe for us to hear from the youth,” says Woochong Um, ADB’s Director General for the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department.

“I think we should work with youth because they want better results, better outcomes,” says Beniam Gebrezghi, Programme Specialist, UNDP.

“I think we all know that the more we engage with those that we purport to serve the better our projects are,” says Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International.

“There has to be different types of mechanisms to engage with youth at different levels,” says Sharia Walker, Senior Youth Development Specialist, Islamic Development Bank.

Text: Let’s listen to development experts and young people get real about youth participation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

“What value do young people's being in development sector?” asks youth representative Anika Bushra, Bangladesh.

“Sustainable development is about future but more importantly to meet the needs of tomorrow. In order to meet the needs of tomorrow we have to talk to the youth who will be the leaders of the future,” answers Um.

“They know their own lived realities and they are good at coming up with solutions so the more we listen the better our development projects will be,” answers Albrectsen.

“How can the young people advocate to have greater involvement and development work?” asks Um.

“The key is networking and alliances with adults in the space,” answers youth representative Andrew Lesa, Samoa.

“It's about by surrounding yourself with the right but of people surrounding yourself with the right mentorships and actually really putting our quality work,” answers youth representative Mei Kok, Singapore.

“What characteristic and skill that's the youth have that make them such good development partners?” asks youth representative Savira Qurrata, Indonesia.

“They're very, very smart. In fact, I think they're smarter than our generation,” answers Um.

“Young people are generally more risk takers. They look at things from a new lens,” answers Gebrezghi.

“How can you use contribute to achieving the SDGs?” asks Albrectsen.

“I think youth are energetic and they have the mindset to make a positive change,” answers Bushra.

“Give solutions in the global and local challenges,” answers youth representative Christian Laurente, Philippines.

“What do I choose to consume? How am I using the Internet of Things to be more knowledgeable about my actions and how that impacts development in general,” answers Kok.

“We have the kind of lifestyle that is increasingly green increasingly mobile but increasingly social justice orientated as well,” answers Lesa.

“How can we make sure that the development assistance is not just for youth as beneficiaries but also for them as partners and leaders?” Kok asks.

“Mobilizing the youth it's a two-way street this generation of the young today are not satisfied with just being told what to do they need to be convinced,” answers Um.

“I think the first thing is a lot of organization need to unlearn how to engage with young people,” answers Gebrezghi.

“It's not just about having them in the room. It’s not listening to them briefly. It is about really engaging with their ideas, testing them, sometimes, piloting them, seeing what works, what doesn't work,” answers Albrectsen.

“So I think if we want a realistic understanding of the problem so that we can begin to design solutions we're going to have to hear from youth themselves,” answers Walker.