On International Youth Day, Generation17 young leaders call for solidarity between young, old and in between.
Intergenerational solidarity to achieve the 2030 Agenda
August 11, 2022
Since COVID-19 started raging the world, intergenerational solidarity has been put to the ultimate test. Across the world, youth have been disproportionately hard hit on schooling, job security, and mental health in efforts to protect those generations at the highest risk of contracting COVID. Still, solidarity between generations seems to have stood its ground throughout the pandemic. This is exactly what we recognize and applaud in this year’s International Youth Day. We can no longer speak about the Global Goals apart from intergenerational solidarity.
From Generation17, we decided to reflect on the power of intergenerational solidarity in achieving the Global Goals. 6 young leaders came together to share our first-hand experience with intergenerational solidarity. It is time for an unprecedented showing of solidarity between generations.
Nora Altwaijri, Saudi Arabia
My work for the SDGs is focused on enabling youth and creating opportunities for their action. I am a firm believer those young active members of society have a fresh eye on its challenges and its needs for a better future. They are more eager than ever to create differences and contribute to leading the change once attaining the opportunity to do so. However, this would not happen without being enabled by older generations and having intergenerational solidarity that ensures inclusivity of all ages and leaves no one behind. During my first internship, I was invited to share ideas around the digital literacy challenge the company was facing with older generations. Having grown up in the digital world, I provided recommendations which the executives set-in motion that in the end elevated digital usage and awareness for more than 300+ employees. The concept of utilizing youth strengths could be applied across different challenges our universe is facing. Young people tend to have loads of creative energy ready to be unleashed in the form of innovative ideas at any opportunity provided. Creating a world for all ages is required in the mission of achieving the SDGs.
Thuy Anh Ngo, Viet Nam
Similarly to Nora, I, Thuy, understand the responsibility of helping the older generation achieve a higher quality of life. Having spent my childhood living with my grandfather and being guided and supported by him, I also recognize the importance of learning from older adults. It is why I founded HASU, a healthcare platform which helps the elderly exercise, learn online, entertain and communicate at home during COVID-19 and integrate them into the modern technology world.
To achieve the sustainable development goals, it is necessary to join hands with all people and resources. Elderly people bring these resources to society, not only through their tremendous experience which young people need to spend a lot more time to pursue, but also thanks to their financial resources. They play an important role in guiding the younger generations in the family. This asset has been somewhat not properly perceived by the society because of social stereotypes, that “old people are weak”, “retired people no longer create value”. In fact, young people who are in healthier condition with ambition and creativity though lacking experience, together with the guidance and help from older adults, can create extraordinary values and contribute strongly to social development."
Tamara Dewi Gondo Soerijo, Indonesia
Continuing to build on what Thuy said, the older generation have provided me with guidance but as well as support, and without their belief in me I wouldn’t be the person I am today. “Tamara, you will make a great entrepreneur. You have it in you to build solutions to tackle issues of injustice.” That was the word of my late mentor, Bob Harp, director of Innovation at my University. He was my first investor–believing in who I could be even though I hadn’t seen in myself those skill sets yet.
That one conversation instilled the belief that I can make a difference as a social entrepreneur. He didn’t stop there, he went the extra mile to give me a scholarship to enter a venture builder program, Praxis Academy. It led to the opening of many doors, big and small, in using business to lift women out of poverty. Today through Liberty Society, we have instilled the same belief to more than 100+ refugee women to rebuild their lives through tailoring & entrepreneurship trainings, community of support, as well as access to the market. We equip them with skills to be breadwinners so that they are also able to weave their hopes and dreams again for a better life for their family and children.
Kristian Kampmann, Demmark
UNLEASH is built on the fundamental idea that everyone, everywhere can become an entrepreneur, when giving the right support to succeed. The big question is: What kind of support? After taking part of the Possibilists survey, we discovered that a main conclusion was the need for “connections to relevant people for their work (senior changemakers, advisors, experts, etc.)”. If youth get support from senior leaders like that, they can deliver impact for all ages. I experienced it myself as I have been fortunate to receive such support at UNLEASH. Since 2016, I have had our chairperson, Prof. Flemming Besenbacher, on speed dial for advice, network access, and sanity checks on my ideas.
Oğu Ergen, Türkiye
Despite having the guidance from the older generation, it’s also crucial for them to be supporting us and to have our voices, as young leaders, in the decision-making process. I took part as a member of the executive committee in the National Youth Parliament in Turkey, which was established in 2004 and where Habitat Association serves as the secretariat. We ran two campaigns in this network. The first of these was the reduction of the voting age from 30 to 25, and it succeeded. Then we ran another campaign to lower the voting age from 25 to 18. Currently, the age to be elected in Turkey is 18. This not only increased the election rate of young people, but also greatly benefited from lowering the average age in the parliament.
AY Young, United States
For me, Intergenerational solidarity is essential to providing youth opportunities. Collaboration is key to power change. In order to amplify our impact, it's going to take all ages, races and demographics working together to break down all these silos and build bridges that connect. As founder of the Battery Tour, I use a music and impact model. We are all “outlets’’ for change. Plugged into each other on the local level, community, or national level we can power change.
As we established above, when networks, support, and solidarity freely flow between generations, we can achieve impact and build back better, especially after the pandemic. Young people are seen as the leaders of the future all over the world, but we are also the partners of today. Our voices must be heard and taken into account in the decision-making process to guarantee the continued development of all.
As the 2030 Agenda approaches its end date, let’s ensure to continue this path of intergenerational solidarity.
Generation17 supports a group of inspiring young leaders aged 18 to 32 dedicated to innovating for humanity and mobilizing global communities. To learn more about this initiative and meet the Generation17 young leaders, the visionaries, advocates, and entrepreneurs building a better future, visit generation17.undp.org.
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