On 17 December 1999,  the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 54/120 supported the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that 12th of August should be declared International Youth Day. The first IYD was observed on 12 August, 2000. However, this year the International Youth Day is special, it is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There is an opinion that this is where young people have a critical role to play. The overall success of the SDGs depends on youth engagement because young people are: critical thinkers, change-makers, innovators, communicators and simply future leaders. But, sometimes, even without special role every young person can become of game changer and the International Youth Day 2016 is all about that.

The International Youth Day 2016 is It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production.  And if you know about 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it would be clear for you that Goal 12 is in the center of the Youth Day celebration. However, it is important to understand that sustainable consumption is actually more than just one goal of the Agenda 2030.


Source: author’s compilation

Look at this simple graph. Responsible food consumption, or choice of organic, seasonal, locally produced food will have to eradicate poverty and hunger, avoid destruction of ecosystems and simply will keep you healthier. Choice of sustainable drinks or avoiding plastic packaging and imported from far-away beverages can also help to fight against poverty, ecosystem degradation as well as will prevent extraction of water from vulnerable and not protected by law territories. Choice of nature and human friendly cleaning, washing and body care substances will prevent pollution of nature from microplastics, chlorin and many other dangerous elements that were massively dumped also destroying infrastructure facilities and our health. Avoiding of wasting energy and water in our households also save natural resources for next generation and simply our money and built infrastructure. Sustainable consumption should become mainstream among young people because can it promote sustainable production that guarantee achievement of Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. United Nations explain:

Sustainable consumption entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations. The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption of all and minimize waste and pollution is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development. Yet, many young men and women face barriers to certain green consumption choices. Those barriers to sustainable consumption choices include the high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available choices.

The choice of consumer is a powerful tool on the way to sustainable production. At the same time, sustainable production can contribute to “meeting the basic needs of all people, including youth, by making food, water and energy more accessible and affordable to those living in poverty. Investing in sustainable production also creates new markets and employment opportunities and helps ensure the social inclusion of all persons in their societies everywhere”.

It is time for changes in consumption patterns as they have the potential to contribute to the eradication of poverty, saving environment and infrastructure, provide new impetus for economic growth and a higher proportion of spending allocated to social development, including health care and education. It is not enough to hope for a better tomorrow, UNESCO claims, we must act now. Already now there are many guide and books on sustainable lifestyle and consumption, many people are already transforming the way they produce, consume, behave and communicate. Young people, such as  Youth of UNESCO sustainable consumption advocate, Ms Lauren Singer, demonstrate a zero-waste lifestyle.

The main celebration of the  International Youth Day 2016 will take place at UN Headquarters and will highlight how young people contribute to sustainable consumption and production. However, young people around the world will not be left behind. You can organize an event to celebrate International Youth Day in your community, school, youth club, or workplace or find one next to you.


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