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AIESEC Participates at UN ECOSOC Forum on Youth

This generation of young people – the largest the world has ever seen – has a historic opportunity to end poverty, combat climate change, create jobs and fight injustice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a Youth Forum at UN Headquarters in New York this morning as he called on the participants to get involved in shaping a future sustainable development agenda.

Today, there are 1.8 billion young people, representing one quarter of the world’s population. Many struggle to find work, and are often hit hardest in conflict. The Secretary-General says that it is time now to see this huge cohort as a force of change that harbours the ingenuity and creativity to help solve the world’s most daunting challenges.

The event started with a keynote address urging an uptick in investment for children around the world, children’s activist and 2007 International Children’s Peace Prize Winner, Thandiwe Chama, called on delegates to be “on the right side of history” and place “our rights, the rights of children and youth, at the heart of the SDG agenda.”

“There’s no doubt that young people are facing multiple challenges to meet their potential but they are not giving up,” emphasized Youth Envoy Mr. Alhendawi.

“Everywhere I go, I see how the youth want to be connected to the United Nations; they will not miss any opportunity to volunteer and to advocate. They will participate at the Model UN just to simulate what’s happening in the rooms with delegates. Today we are not simulating. This is the United Nations in action.”

As the UN representative on all things relating to young people, Mr. Alhendawi said that a “sense of ownership” is critical to the success of the future sustainable development agenda. The 1.8 billion young people worldwide are ready to “carry their share” of the post-2015 development.

AIESEC representatives Karolina Piotrowska and Tala Mansi are present at the forum to voice our opinions in the role of Youth in light of the upcoming launch of the UN SDG’s.

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Karolina Piotrowska representing the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations

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Tala Mansi from AIESEC speaking about Youth at the forum

Tala Mansi spoke on the panel voicing “the importance of youth development, bridging the gap between employment and education, and creating individual commitment and awareness of SDG’s from the bottom up.”

The engagement of young people is key to ensuring the successes of the SDG’s as young people will be the ones implementing these large global initiatives. AIESEC has engaged tens of thousands of young people in voicing up their opinions via the YouthSpeak survey where it captures their opinions on the challenges they face in reaching their fullest potential.

We further encourage young people to take ownership of the issues they care about and not sit still waiting for change to come. As we firmly believe that the world needs new leaders and our generation are the ones who need to step up, have courage and stand up for what matters to us.

The world needs your leadership and it’s your time to step up and take responsibility. When was the last time you spoke up about issues that mattered to you?

You can learn more about the ECOSOC Youth forum here.

 

 

The Race to Improving the World Beyond 2015

Did you know there are only 500 days left until the end of the Millennium Development Goals?

As 2015 is slowly approaching, the world is closely watching to witness the accomplishments of the 8 MDGs, set by the United Nations back in the year 2000.

So where are we now? How much did we achieve?

“The world has reduced extreme poverty by half, efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results, access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people”, etc. says The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at the goals and progress reports from this video:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but 1 in 5 still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day in developing countries. And although the world has reduced extreme poverty in half, 842 million people around the world still suffer from chronic hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education – The number of children with no access to primary school education decreased from 102 million in 2000 to 58 million in 2012. While the amount has significantly decreased, the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

3. Reduce child mortalityUnder-5 mortality rate was reduced almost by 50%, but a lot more needs to be achieved if we want to achieve 2/3 reduction.

4. Improve maternal health – Maternal mortality ratio is down 45% since 1990. However, every day about 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

5. Ensure environmental sustainability – Since 2012, 2.3 billion more have access to improved drinking water, but 748 million still use water from an unimproved source.

For more statistics, take a look at:

 

While we ought to celebrate our achievements and recognize the progress we’ve made, we shouldn’t forget how far the world is from where we want it to be. Working on these issues is not priority only now or only until 2015, but every day.

How can we contribute to this?

On August 19th 2014, 700 young people from 124 countries and territories gathered at the Global Youth to Business Forum, an event bringing together top young leaders and experts, business and thought leaders, with the aim of generating new, actionable ideas that will impact the world and its future.

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They spent the whole day discussing the topics ranging from Diversity and Inclusion, Technology and Innovation to Climate Change, Sustainability and Changing Education. Together, they have come up with action steps that could help improve each of those areas and move the world forward. Stay tuned for our report to find out about the solutions youth and business co-created together!

Don’t forget that we have only 500 days left until MDGs. At the same time, let’s not forget that impact is a daily responsibility. This is why AIESEC offers volunteer internships that help tackle social topics such as cultural understanding, education and literacy, social entrepreneurship, environment, health and lifestyle and many others. For more information, please visit: http://globalcitizen.aiesec.org

This is how we contribute to making an impact every day and helping move this world forward. Share with us:

How will you contribute to bringing the world closer to the vision of 2015? 

 

AIESEC at the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka

“We are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today”
– Opening remarks by Jayathma Wickramanayake, Sri Lanka’s first Youth Delegate to the UN

Last week Sri Lanka hosted the World Conference on Youth. Over 1,500 young people representing 169 different countries gathered in the capital city of Colombo for this conference which has been held all over the world every few years since 1936. The United Nations is currently in the process of drafting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the replacement for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015. The biggest problem with the MDGs was that there was little to no youth participation, even though youth were the ones who were responsible for carrying them out. The young people at this conference and around the world are determined to make sure their inputs are considered this time around.

The purpose of the conference was to gather youth input from all over the world to produce a joint outcome document between the government representatives in attendance and the global representation of youth, officially called the “Colombo Declaration on Youth.” This document will be taken back to the UN headquarters in New York City to be considered in the negotiations of the SDGs.

Participants came from all over the world and were fully funded by the government of Sri Lanka. Delegates included youth from marginalized backgrounds, youth leaders and experts, Sri Lankan youth delegates, national youth delegates representing 200 nations, and youth from international youth-led organizations—including AIESEC. Cassandra Ruggiero, Global VP of Public Relations for AIESEC International, and myself as the AIESEC Representative to the United Nations, who represented AIESEC at the conference. There were roughly 20 other AIESECers in attendance from Sri Lanka and the rest of the world.

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The biggest testament to the strength of the AIESEC network was that anyone you asked about AIESEC had either participated in a program or definitely knew all about it. Whether or not they were formally a part of our organisation, everyone had the mindset of an AIESECer: determined to make the world a better place through youth leadership.

Cassandra was able to step in for a missing speaker on the Globalization and Youth-led Development panel to share these values with an audience of nearly one hundred people. She was given only 5 minutes to prepare after being asked to speak on the panel, a tribute to the ability of AIESECers to adapt under pressure to any situation. After speaking on the panel, we ran a side event on “Becoming the Leader the World Needs” to help delegates reflect on their leadership journeys so that they can take the excitement of the conference back home and make an impact in their countries.

While many side events focused on presenting information on different thematic areas, AIESEC’s event stuck to a youthful vibe that allowed delegates to learn from their past experiences in leadership and start to figure out what they feel their strengths are. This was just a taste of AIESEC’s leadership development program that runs for each of their members around the world.

“By figuring out how to be the best version of yourself, you can be a better leader for the world, and have more impact in whichever path you choose.”
Cassandra Ruggiero

The Millennium Development Goals have done a lot over the last 14 years to change the world we live in, but take a moment to think about how your leadership can shape the world post-2015. There are many avenues within the United Nations to express your vision for the future, including the MyWorld Survey, but the most important thing for you to do is think about your own community/village/town/city/country/world and figure out how you can make an impact, starting today.

To read more about the outcomes of the World Conference on Youth, head to their blog

Five reasons why we need to talk about the future of leadership today

1. The turning point is approaching: post-2015 Development Agenda

The year 2015 is approaching and with it the turning point for the current Millennium Development Goals. All eyes will be on the United Nations and the post-2015 developmental agenda. It is the right time to start thinking about what the future holds beyond 2015. Leadership nowadays is culture-oriented and issue-based, striving to be not just a concept, but a socially responsible solution for the challenges the world is facing. Once we define challenges we want to tackle in the future, we can be set to shape the type of leadership young people will need to be able to solve world’s burning problems.

2. Keeping up with the swift pace of changes in the world

The world is changing at an unprecedented pace and it is necessary to have a visionary outlook in order to predict challenges and start generating possible sustainable solutions. Today’s professions did not exist 10 years ago and we probably have not yet anticipated the professions of tomorrow. However, by ensuring we are developing experts aware of the world they live in, we are one step closer to being in charge of our future, keeping up with the evolution and not falling behind.

3. Value-based leadership development among Gen Y

Technology has changed the way we perceive the world and has influenced the lifestyle of a new generation – Gen Y. It has created interconnected, intertwined society, but has also contributed to information overload, or in other words “information glut” and “data smog”.

T.S.Eliot once asked “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Technology did not only change our lifestyle, but also a much deeper aspect of society – the one comprised of values. Since the values that guide people have shifted, we have to ensure that the values the world is built on today, will not endanger any aspect of life in the future. While it is encouraged to live in the present, shortsightedness can prove fatal, as seen by the state of the climate change today.

4. Generation Y to lead the world in the future

Representatives of Generation Y will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2030. It is crucial to understand the way they think, work and act in order to provide the right opportunity for them to develop skills they will need in the future and in order to ensure the right kind of leadership is in store for tomorrow. If provided with an interactive and informative learning platform, young people will be able to develop their potential to the fullest and use it to contribute to their society.

5. Understand. Define. ACT. (in that order)

We should define the type of leaders we want to develop in the future. The first step to developing leaders is knowing what kind of leadership we would like to see in the future. Dynamic? Collaborative? Impactful? Inclusive?

It is important to remember that leadership is not an end goal, but a solution. There are no easy fixes for the challenges we are facing. But the best way to tackle them is to invest in youth – young leaders who will one day decide about the future of our world. In order to achieve that, it is necessary we begin today.

What type of leadership would you like to see in 2030?

Join us on our official Facebook channel www.facebook.com/GlobalY2B and watch live on February 25th, as we discuss the future of leadership on Youth to Business Forum Top Leaders Edition.

AIESEC finds itself surrounded by brilliant leaders at the Social Good Summit

Happy Monday everyone!

This week I have been given the fantastic opportunity by our lovely UN representatives, Tami and Eliane, to attend Mashable’s Social Good Summit at the 92Y in New York City.

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The Social Good Summit is a three-day conference where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. Held during UN Week from 22-24 September, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.

I started off the day in the Digital Media Lounge, where hundreds of journalists and bloggers gathered to watch the day’s events and surrounded themselves with camera equipment and gadgets. It really felt like the “blogger-sphere” for me. I have never seen anything like it!

The organisers at Mashable and the United Nations Foundation have really done a great job bringing the right profile of speakers – previous heads of state, current United Nations representatives, entrepreneurs, activists and celebrities – to speak about development, the world we live in and how we need to act to eradicate poverty.

I spent most of the day absorbing the knowledge in the room, meeting fantastic social entrepreneurs and even meeting some AIESEC alumni!

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You may recognise this amazing and approachable fellow – the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations – Jan Eliasson, whom is an AIESEC alum and supporter from AIESEC Sweden. I spoke to him after his keynote around the Human Right of Water and Sanitation for all. He remembers his AIESEC years with joy and sends his regards and support to AIESEC’s entire network.

One of the main themes of the day seemed to be around young people and development, and their push for a better world.  Some of the most high-profile speakers – from HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, to Ben Keesey of Invisible Children Inc. and Helen Clark, the administrator of the UNDP – spoke about this generations ability to speak up and act swiftly to create the change they want to see. They even brought people in who demonstrated these actions; one of the most impressive for me being Jessica O. Matthews of Unchartered Play, Inc. who created a soccer ball that when played with generates electricity.

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If there is a lesson I have learned from the first days of Social Good Summit, it’s that there are a lot of young people that are trying to take action and are doing some pretty cool things. There are also a lot of platforms – like Ryot.org and Change.org – that help young people to take action when they don’t know how. What we need to make sure happens, is that all groups – from youth and corporate to government and civil society – come together to put in all efforts for the last 900 days of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals so that whatever comes next does not seem so difficult.

Social Good Events are happening all over the world in conjunction with the Social Good Summit. AIESEC in Brazil has been supporting the creation and organization of Social Good Brazil Seminar on the 24th of September that will be available via livestream with English translation.

Check out their website for more information (www.socialgoodbrasil.org.br/2013/live) or follow the conversation on twitter by using @socialgoodbr, #socialgood and #2030NOW

The end of the IANYD and ICMYO Meetings – just the start of AIESEC’s involvement with the United Nations

Hello again everyone.

I have been quite absent over the last few days, I know. I actually have been running around from meeting to meeting to event to meeting, and it has been an amazing experience.

I have taken part in the IANYD – Inter-Agency Network for Youth Development- Meeting as well as the ICMYO – International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations- Meeting over the last four days. As I indicated in my last post, this is the first time AIESEC has participated actively in these types of United Nations affiliated events in a very long time, so this week has been very informative for myself and for AIESEC as an organisation.

We are much more aware of the strategic focuses of the United Nations when it comes to youth, and specifically what the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmed Alhendawi is trying to push within the United Nations. Even more importantly, we have identified points of collaboration with other youth organisations; something AIESEC has been very happy to do for a few years now.

I really believe that AIESEC now can see many more ways we can contribute to the United Nations work, and how we can continue to fight for the World We Want with other youth organisations around the world. Working with other youth groups to make sure that the youth agenda is pushed, is listened to, and is committed to by member states is how we will make it happen. Youth have spoken up, and have already started taking action – it is time for our leaders to help us make it happen.

 

Day 1 Wrap Up: How to make Youth-SWAP more actionable

Hello everyone,

Day One of the IANYD conference proved to be a long and informative one. Learning more about the Youth-SWAP, and how the United Nations wants to move forward with making sure it is implemented is quite an intense discussion.

I spent a large part of the day with one of AIESEC’s New York based representatives Eliane, and she helped bring me up to speed with the youth initiative and what AIESEC’s role could possibly be.

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There was a lot of emphasis on what the role of youth is with the UN. The Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin described it nicely by saying it is now the time that the UN is talking with and not talking to Youth.

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In the afternoon we split into working groups to come up with recommendations for the UN on how to take action on their commitments. I joined the working group on employment and entrepreneurship, because I thought AIESEC had a lot to contribute in that discussion.

The conversations with the people at the table were great, but for some reason they left me wanting to hear more- not necessarily more around SWAP, but more around action. As AIESECers, we are very used to having one year to make an impact; we have to move quickly, and start implementing right away or we risk doing nothing with the one year term we have. Sometimes this leads us to have the “legacy syndrome”, where we do anything to leave our mark, sometimes reinventing the wheel when we don’t have to. But overall, it teaches us that we must move fast to make an impact.

Youth-SWAP was released in 2012, and a year and a half later, it seems it is still not clear on the actions it wants it’s member states to take. If the UN really wants to make an impact in the area of Youth, which I feel it genuinely does, it needs to figure out how to work more swiftly and smart to start taking actions that improve the lives of young people now.

I will be talking a lot more with some of the other youth organisations, but also Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, whom is so passionate around making sure that the Action plan on Youth works! I hope that we can not only identify ways that we can make sure the commitments for employment and entrepreneurship are met, but also the role that AIESEC can play in these plans.

My question to you, and I hope you participate in this discussion:
If the overall goal of the employment and entrepreneurship focus area is to ensure greater opportunities for youth to secure decent work and income, what do you think the first actions need to be? And how can the UN and Youth organisations make this happen?

AIESEC goes to the Big Apple to participate in UN Youth Action Plan discussions

Hello from New York City!

As AIESEC International, we made it a priority this year to really understand the role AIESEC is playing as the largest youth-led organisation in the world with the United Nations, as well as with the Secretary-General’s focus on Youth.

In January 2012, the Secretary General laid out his five-year Action Agenda which laid out five generational imperatives to be addressed by the United Nations requiring the mobilization of all the human, financial and political resources available to the Organisation. Working with and for young people is one of these imperatives.

AIESEC is attending the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s (IANYD) Open Meeting from the 18-20 of September with other Youth-led Organisations and Networks to understand the System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP), contribute to discussions on creating concrete proposals for partnerships between these organisations and the United Nations entities, and establish mechanisms for accountability and increased participation in implementing the strategies.

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi with be participating in the week events to provide more information but to gain our ideas and support for the mandates he has taken by the United Nations for the Youth Agenda.

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I will be live-blogging from the conference to give you an update on conversations, but also to gain your insight and questions so I can share it with the group of experts that are here to listen to our ideas and concerns, and use them to improve the strategies and programmes for Youth-SWAP.

Check out some information about the System-Wide Action Plan on Youth HERE

If you have any questions or comments, you can tweet them to the conference by using the tags: @UN4Youth #openmeeting or tag @AIESEC or me @cassruggiero

I will keep updating you as the week goes!

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