The Power of People and Networks
Each August, over 600 youth from around the world gather for the United Nations Youth Assembly to reaffirm the commitment of youth in global civic engagement. As over half the world population is under 25, youth play a critical role in advancing the interests of the global community.
While I was honored to represent Canada at the UN Youth Assembly, I believe you don’t need a UN badge to work for the UN. What allows you to work for the UN — what inspires progress and change — is a shared commitment to the values of the UN and faith in the idea that anyone, anywhere can lead.
This is especially true in an increasingly interconnected world, where the power to generate dialogue has experienced a paradigm shift: from institutions to people and networks. Where news used to come from a few influential networks or newspapers, we now have the option of getting our information from an endless number of blogs, websites or digital news shows. The leveling power of technology has allowed the voices of youth to be amplified louder and faster than ever before; and it affirms they want to be a part of change.
So how can youth channel the power of people and networks into meaningful action?
1. Find Your Calling
What is it that you want to achieve? What strengths can you leverage to contribute to the global community?
Whether it’s in the next year, or the next five years, establish specific goals and a timeframe in which to achieve those goals. If you have long term goals (especially those that run over several years), work backwards in one-year and four-month increments to create short term goals that ensure you stay on track.
2. Get Connected
Who is it that can help you accomplish your goal?
If you want to accomplish something meaningful, whether you want to run a company or right a social ill, your ability to build relationships is key to your success.
Seth Godin affirms that “most leadership … is about finding a group that’s disconnected but already has a yearning”.When you connect with people share your goal with one another, you can create change by aligning large numbers of people together.
Powerful change happens when you lead a group of people that are connected to a shared goal and each other: a movement greater than what you could achieve alone.
3. Commit to Action
Meaningful action requires commitment — to your goals and to the people that you lead. No matter what your goals are, commit to turning your ideas into a reality.
The commitment of youth leaders is especially important this year, as it effectively marks the transition from MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). For the past 15 years, MDGs have made significant gains — lifting people out of poverty, expanding education for women, and reducing child mortality — among other achievements. But they have also struggled to ensure consistent progress across the globe and enforce the ideas of its conception.
These challenges are not a reason to walk away from these ideals, but rather a calling to increase our efforts for the future. We do not have to live in an idealized world to advance ideals that will make it a better place. As we transition to the post-2015 agenda, the SDGs are an opportunity for our generation to ensure peaceful and prosperous societies so no global citizen is left behind.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on August 21, 2016.