Our Future Agenda Quarterly

Designed to offer crisp, thought-provoking policy insights to readers, with more in-depth content for those wishing to delve deeper.

Our mission is to amplify the voices of the next generation, bridging the gap between youthful innovators and global policymaking.

But first, a message from Our Future Agenda...

As we cross the threshold into another new year, we recall that 2023 was marked by grief and conflict that will be felt in the months ahead.

The year marked the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda, painting a picture of some stark realities: young people under 30 make up half of the world's population, with the majority living in Asia and Africa.

Many live in young countries across Africa and Asia, burdened by heavy debts, which impede their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering tangible change in young people’s lives. Alarmingly, only 15% of SDGs have been realized, accompanied by a perceptible decline in young people's faith in democracy.

The challenges are clear, but our journey so far has also been rewarding, offering valuable lessons. Now is the time to step up our efforts, directing more resources toward young people and young countries that need it most. This is not just about fostering hope; it's about making strategic and bold strides towards securing a better future for current and future generations and doing so urgently. 

The upcoming Summit of the Future presents a golden opportunity to drive SDG action and reimagine global cooperation to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. Particularly for young people and young countries, this Summit is a unique chance to influence the global agenda and create significant change.

I'm thrilled to introduce Our Future Agenda Quarterly, your indispensable guide through this transformative period. In the lead up to the Summit and beyond, our digital magazine delivers insightful political commentary, comprehensive analysis, and compelling narratives, emerging as a crucial resource for anyone dedicated to understanding and participating in these vital global conversations. 

Harshani Dharmadasa – Senior Director, Global Partnerships and Initiatives at United Nations Foundation

Our Greatest Hits in 2023

2023 was a landmark year for the UN Foundation's Our Future Agenda program. We've driven transformation in the global landscape to address 21st century challenges, with young people and young countries at the forefront.  

  • Welcoming a new cohort of global Next Generation Fellows
  • Launching the Next Generation India Fellows
  • Publishing the Unlock the Future coalition’s five-year strategy Road to 2100
  • Signing up new Unlock the Future coalition partners
  • Starting the design of a Funders Collective for financing young people
  • Engaging 44,000 young people in the Engine Room project
  • Collaborating with African Union Youth Envoy
  • Summarizing the UNSG's Policy Briefs in Our Common Agenda Decoded

Spotlight on Hickmatu

Hickmatu Bintu Leigh was this year's recipient of the SDG Vanguard Award in recognition of her inspiring use of art to reframe how girls and women are seen in Sierra Leone and beyond, and in recognition of her work championing girls’ education.

Hickmatu Bintu Leigh grew up with a passion for photography hidden beneath her pursuit of becoming a medical doctor. She discovered her true calling in a local photography studio, despite facing challenges as a female photographer in a male-dominated field.

Hickmatu's dedication, determination, and unconventional education in photography helped her stand out. She aimed not only to excel as a photographer but also to break gender stereotypes and barriers in her profession.

Despite numerous rejections, Hickmatu's self-belief led her to apply for an award, and winning the SDG Vanguard Award became a defining moment in her career.

Hickmatu's message to young girls is to keep pushing forward, ignore doubts, and stay focused on their goals. Her future plans involve using her photography and public health background to tell stories about health issues affecting young women and children.

Summit of the Future

The Summit of the Future, scheduled for September 2024, represents a pivotal moment in global governance and cooperation. It emerged from a call for change during the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020.

Our Common Agenda, a blueprint for the future of the UN, underscored the need for solidarity among nations and generations, aiming to rejuvenate the multilateral system, accelerate commitments, and bridge global governance gaps. 

The Summit of the Future, themed "Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow", seeks to reimagine global governance. It aspires to result in a groundbreaking "Pact for the Future", organized into five chapters covering sustainable development, international peace and security, science and technology cooperation, youth empowerment, and global governance reform. Optional annexes may include a global digital compact and a declaration on future generations.  

Key proposals outlined in 11 Policy Briefs by the Secretary-General focus on accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing future challenges. Additionally, the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism proposed six transformative shifts to ensure effective global cooperation beyond the Summit of the Future.  

The Preparatory Ministerial Meeting held in September 2023 highlighted the importance of commitment to the SDGs, meaningful youth engagement, digital advancement, financial reforms, and international cooperation to address global challenges.

This article shares all you need to know about the Summit of the Future, including a summary of the key proposals and ideas from the Pact for the Future Zero Draft .

Our Future Agenda in 2024

In 2024, the focus of our program is on addressing challenges and seizing opportunities for young people and young countries by fostering intergenerational cooperation and building a more equitable world. There are three key objectives:

  • Ramping up Political Support: Our first objective involves increasing political support and accountability for intergenerational cooperation within the UN. This includes hosting dialogues with champions for future generations, organizing a retreat to devise a roadmap for 2100, and actively participating in global events and forums. Strengthening ties with UN youth organizations and supporting the African Union Youth Envoy's network are also part of this objective.
  • Spotlight Current and Future Challenges: Our second objective aims to increase awareness of the current and future challenges facing young people. This will be achieved through creative and digital content, collaboration with experts in future scenario planning, and working with young people and experts to analyze challenges and seek collective solutions. 
  • Empowering Young People: Our third objective focuses on empowering young people to accelerate action on the SDGs. This involves launching the 'Engine Room for the Future' as a platform for young changemakers, initiating the 'Big Brainstorm,' hosting fellowship programs, and launching stage 2 of the Funders Collective to improve funding for local SDG Action driven by young people.

Engine Room of the Future

A capstone of our work in 2024 will be the 'Engine Room for the Future', a digital platform designed to mobilize thousands of young changemakers to share ideas, engage with the global system, and learn from inspiring changemakers on the importance of intergenerational cooperation.

On March 25, the 2024 Engine Room will launch with a clear mandate to propel the ambitions of the Road to 2100, a 5-Year Action Plan designed to enable all young people to unlock the full potential of their future. This Roadmap will serve as a springboard to tackle current and future challenges through global cooperation. 

Learn more about the Engine Room for the Future and how to get involved here.

Looking ahead

In 2024, there are key global moments and events that will shape the year for young people and young countries. Read the article to explore how these moments and many more will influence the world stage:

Q1: January – March

  1. BRICS+ expansion promotes economic collaboration for young countries
  2. World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos gathers leaders and experts
  3. World Day of Social Justice fosters dialogue on strengthening the social contract
  4. HLPF Preparatory Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific, Western Africa, and Europe
  5. Holi Festival celebrates the start of spring and the triumph of joy
  6. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) accelerates the achievement of gender equality
  7. Launch of the Engine Room

Q2: April – June

  1. 75th Anniversary of NATO discusses peace and security
  2. 30th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide educates on peace and reconciliation
  3. HLPF Preparatory Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for Latin America and the Caribbean
  4. United Nations Civil Society Conference in Support of the Summit of the Future in Nairobi engages multiple stakeholders
  5. Africa Day celebrates African unity
  6. Eurovision Song Contest emphasizes cultural diversity
  7. 80th D-Day anniversary offers historical insights

Q3: July – September

  1. High-Level Political Forum 2024 and launch of the Visionary Taskforce
  2. World Population Day focuses on current and future demographics
  3. 2024 Olympics in Paris promotes global diversity and solidarity
  4. International Youth Day acknowledges youth's role in social change
  5. Geneva Convention Anniversary symbolizes commitment to global peace and human rights
  6. UN Summit of the Future discusses global issues

Q4: October – December

  1. BRICS Summit and NASA's Europa Clipper launch serve as scientific inspiration
  2. United Nations Day celebrates the UN's anniversary
  3. United States Presidential Election impacts global politics
  4. G20 Summit hosted by Brazil, and South Africa ascends to G20 Presidency
  5. COP 29 climate conference continues global climate discussions
  6. International Human Solidarity Day

Thank you for reading our Quarterly.

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