Meet the visionaries, advocates and entrepreneurs building a better future.
Generation17 supports a group of inspiring young leaders ages 18 to 32 dedicated to innovating for humanity and mobilizing global communities.
AY YOUNG, UNITED STATES
“Everyone is an outlet for change that can power sustainable solutions.”
After learning that over 1 billion people lack access to electricity, AY Young, a Kansas City-born performer was inspired to find a solution. In 2012, he founded Battery Tour, a nonprofit that has hosted over 800 concerts around the world, all powered by renewable energy. “My ultimate goal was to get the world plugged into sustainability by using music as a vehicle,” he says. Battery Tour is used to fund, build, and deploy solar boxes to those in need. In the future, AY wants to use the concert series to empower other artists to perform sustainably, while continuing to provide access to electricity for those without it.
KRISTIAN KAMPMANN, DENMARK
“Mobilizing and enabling people to become agents of change is how I want to create real impact for the Global Goals.”
Kristian Kampmann is Head of the nonprofit UNLEASH, a global platform that sources innovative solutions for the Global Goals. Starting in 2016, Kristian has helped build the organization from an idea on a piece of paper to a global, youth-led movement for the SDGs. At UNLEASH, Kristian oversees various projects, including the Global Innovation Lab which gathers 1,000 young people to problem solve for the Global Goals. UNLEASH supports entrepreneurs working on social and environmental challenges by providing them with resources to test and launch their projects at scale. Kristian is also an Associate Partner with Dalberg Media, a long term UNLEASH partner, working to build a more inclusive and sustainable world.
NORA ALTWAIJRI, SAUDI ARABIA
“We’re living in an unprecedented digital era, and our Global Goals solutions must reflect that.”
Nora Altwaijri’s passion for digital technology brought her to Prince Sultan University to study computer software engineering. In 2020, she was selected to join UNDP’s Youth Leadership Programme for the Arab Region, where she shared the Sustainable University Initiative. The initiative aims to build a digital platform that educates young people about the importance of the Global Goals and connects them to the resources they need to engage in these challenges. It fosters an environment where students are inspired to act as changemakers by competing to earn points for their global universities. Nora is also active in her community with a variety of volunteer experiences, including with the International Telecommunication Union.
OĞUZ ERGEN, TURKEY
“The climate crisis is everybody’s business – governments, academics, and NGOs must take action together.”
Frustrated by the shrinking fish population in his region, Oğuz Ergen has dedicated the last few years to protecting the coastal Aegean region from the negative impacts of climate change. In 2014, he founded the Social Climate Association, a non-governmental organization that spurs dialogue between young people on the Global Goals and mobilizes their active participation in civil society. In 2020, Oğuz played an active role in founding the Coastal Aegean Climate Network, a hub focused on advocacy campaigns that push for protecting wetlands, cleaning the Aegean Sea, and developing policy. He also leads trainings on the climate crisis in both national and international communities and is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Youth Parliament.
TAMARA DEWI GONDO SOERIJO, INDONESIA
“Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly always.”
Tamara Wu is CEO of Liberty Society, a social enterprise that sells eco-friendly B2B merchandise to fund the upskilling of marginalized women in Indonesia. Tamara’s work at Liberty Society empowers refugee women with skills and fashion education through the training program House by Liberty. Her efforts stem from her passion to seek justice for all, regardless of race, background, gender, or religion. In 2021, Liberty Society received UN Women Indonesia’s Women Empowerment Principles Award. Tamara is an active mentor and a consultant to various non-governmental organizations in Indonesia, working on disaster relief and rural community development. She is also Head of Acquisitions for the personal styling app Yuna & Co.
THUY ANH NGO, VIETNAM
“Technology is a window to the world for the elderly. It improves their quality of life.”
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thuy Anh Ngo witnessed the disproportionate effects of the virus on the elderly population. Determined to ensure that no one was left behind, she developed HASU, a mobile app that equips the elderly with physical, emotional, and social health resources. In 2020, more than 12,000 elderly people in Vietnam used the app to access health guidance as well as exercise and meditation instructions and to connect with their family and friends. “In the context of the pandemic, technology is the best solution,” she said. Thuy Anh hopes HASU, the first app of its kind in Vietnam, will become an essential tool for the elderly around the world.
DANIEL CALARCO, BRAZIL
“I cannot do everything, but I can do things that can mobilize, that can reach, that can lead people to work with me.”
Growing up in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Daniel Calarco experienced the impact of unjust institutions on a daily basis. Amid violence and inaccessible education, he says “just staying alive was one of the goals.” At 11, Daniel won a competitive academic placement that set him on a path to answering his mounting questions about social inequality. At 18, he founded Observatório Internacional da Juventude (International Youth Watch), a tech-enabled community educating thousands of young people around the Global Goals and improving opportunities for marginalized communities. Daniel recently graduated as a human rights lawyer — his next step toward mobilizing even more of his peers who see that too many people are being left behind and who want to challenge the status quo. “The world is always changing,” he says. “What cannot change is our commitment to improve, our commitment to do better.”
NADINE KHAOULI, LEBANON
“Technology enables me to raise my voice, transmit my message globally, shed light on real needs and build an international community of innovators.”
On August 4, 2020, Nadine Khaouli was driving from her village to Beirut City when a explosion—one-twentieth the power of an atomic bomb—rocked the 5,000-year-old city. The blast killed more than 200 people and displaced 300,000, making Nadine's lifelong mission to end poverty and bring “essential dignity” to every person in Lebanon even more urgent. The next day, she and her team from her co-founded initiative Kafe be Kafak (Hand in Hand) were on the scene, providing crisis triage, supplies and shelter for displaced families. Nadine is passionate about the well-being of the Lebanese people. She uses social media to connect with others about her humanitarian efforts and petition for more transparency from government agencies. As the UNDP Lebanon Youth Development Delegate, Nadine is taking her advocacy global, leading virtual workshops and trainings for young people around the world aligned to the Global Goals.
YEJIN CHOI, SOUTH KOREA
“Everyone can use their own ability to help other people just next to them. Making amazing change in one human's life can change the world.”
Two months before starting at Seoul National University, Yejin Choi began tutoring children in a neighboring community known for its widespread poverty. Almost immediately, she noticed that the children, especially those with disabilities, lacked educational resources. In time, she used her cognitive therapy training to devise a yearlong curriculum aimed to help hundreds of families. But after just one month, only five percent of parents still used it. Realizing they needed an easier solution, Yejin turned to technology, creating DoBrain, a video-based learning program kids can access on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Today, DoBrain is growing internationally and has positively impacted tens of thousands of children around the world.
YURII ROMASHKO, UKRAINE
“We believe in digital. We believe in technologists who can think globally, act locally and totally change our world in near future.”
Yurii Romashko applies his passion for data analytics to address public corruption and advance policy transparency for health care and social issues in Ukraine. In 2013, he co-founded the Institute of Analysis and Advocacy (IAA), now ranked as one of the top 100 think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe. Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IAA created a public dashboard that gave people transparency into pricing for medical and consumer goods. Yurii, a law school graduate, sees analytics and technology as fundamental components of his mission: To create an ecosystem for responsible governance aligned to the Global Goals, ultimately empowering people to make more informed, data-based decisions.
MÁXIMO MAZZOCCO, ARGENTINA
“I told myself I was going to lead my own life to make the lives of others better. It’s the only way I know.”
As a teenager in Buenos Aires, Máximo Mazzocco wondered what he could do about his city's garbage problem. One day he stopped wondering and started working on it. Máximo dashed off a pamphlet on recycling and started knocking on doors – teaching, persuading and cajoling 400 families in the community with his waste-reduction message. Looking to amplify his efforts, he created the nonprofit Eco House, inspired by the idea that small actions can add up to big changes. Now the group operates 30 programs and soon will be in 23 countries – advocating for the environment, teaching companies to recycle and compost, mobilizing youth and educating more than 70,000 children just in Argentina, in addition to youth in many other countries.
SHOMY CHOWDHURY, BANGLADESH
“We’re empowering young activists, giving them the skills to follow their passion and take action in their communities.”
Tragedy struck Shomy Chowdhury at age 20, when her mother died just a day after contracting diarrhea. The experience leveled Shomy. So did learning that 1.5 million people die from diarrhea annually. Shomy gave her first presentation four days later on practicing hygiene to prevent deadly disease. “I thought if I waited one more day, maybe someone else would die,” she says. “Doing something right helped turn my pain into strength.” Scores more presentations followed, many to sex workers, sanitation workers and others who are often marginalized and live in extreme poverty. Today, Shomy funnels her strength through Awareness 360, an organization she cofounded that now trains 1,500 young activists in 23 countries and has already reached over 150,000 people.
TAFARA MAKAZA, ZIMBABWE
“I think it’s my job, and the private-sector’s job to figure out how to break down these big problems into small problems we can tackle.”
When Tafara Makaza sees a problem, he can’t resist – he works relentlessly to solve it. Take intercity travel in Zimbabwe, where as a boy he’d walk miles to his PhD father’s teaching job, or the lack of opportunity that drove his highly educated mother to work abroad for a month at a time. Tafara arrived in the United States in 2017; when he discovered ride-sharing apps, he knew instantly how to drive change himself. He learned to code and launched two apps in Africa with a friend: a ride-sharing service and a platform that matches workers with one-off jobs. Tafara now helps run both startups from his dorm room at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
SADYA TOURÉ, MALI
“The Sustainable Development Goals are very personal for me. I think they should be personal for everyone. And I think we can achieve them before 2030.”
Sadya Touré was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) at the age of four. “I knew this was not fair,” she says – and she has been on a mission of female empowerment ever since. At 13, she joined Mali’s National Parliament of Children, where she skipped school lunch to save money and travel to events promoting girls’ education. Later, Sadya educated older, all-male village councils about FGM’s disastrous effects on women’s health, and founded an organization, Mali Musso, that provides full university scholarships, housing assistance and career training to girls from rural Mali. Her next goal: to win a seat in Mali’s parliament seat in five years.