ADB-AIESEC Partnership Empowers the SDG Generation

Young engineers in Myanmar.
Young engineers in Myanmar.

By Richeline Mascarinas

ADB and the world’s largest youth organization will work together together on the post-2015 development agenda.

“We will continue engaging with our youth partners, building their capacities, making their voices heard through meaningful exchanges and increasing interventions in key areas,” Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, said during the 3rd Asian Youth Forum in August 2015. “We will also seek out new partnerships with more youth organizations and civil society organizations, while strengthening the partnerships we currently have.”

As part of that, ADB has been partnering since late last year with AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led network, and its newly minted President Niels Maurice Caszo. who was just appointed Monday at the Global Leaders Summit 2016 in Morocco. Together we will work to empower and mobilize Asia’s youth to enhance youth’s contribution to meeting the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Young people have a huge potential to contribute to Asia’s inclusive growth. There are more people between ages 10 and 24 today than at any other time in human history. Asia is the region with the largest number of young people – a massive 754 million. ADB’s long-term strategic framework Strategy 2020 highlights demographic changes in Asia as one of the key factors that would shape regional development: if engaged and invested in, youth can be Asia’s greatest asset to help ADB realize its vision of a region free from poverty, and in delivering the SDGs.

AIESEC is an international non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences. Founded in 1948, it is recognized as the world’s largest youth-run organization, with over 70,000 members in more than 125 countries and territories. In Asia and the Pacific, AEISEC has more than 30,000 members in 550 university local chapters.

Over the last 5 years AIESEC has mobilized 102,504 international volunteers addressing global problems such as health and lifestyle (6%), climate change (7%), eradicating poverty (22%), and improving literacy (32%), according to the organization’s last annual report. Its alumni represent business, NGOs and world leaders, including one Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Atisaari of Finland, and Jan Eliasson, the United Nations Deputy Secretary General.

A key milestone of the ADB-AIESEC partnership was the December 2015 AIESEC Youth Action Summit, co-hosted by the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth in UN headquarters in New York. With support from ADB, the Youth Action Summit was a 3-day event which brought together the world’s top young leaders, experts, governments, business and thought leaders to discuss and generate actionable ideas to tackle global youth issues and contribute toward implementing the SDGs.

During the summit, AIESEC and its members committed to raise awareness about the SDGs, foster youth engagement around the SDGs, and take action on the SDGs.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believes today’s generation can be the first generation to end poverty. So we at ADB refer to this current generation of young people as the ‘SDGeneration’ or #SDGen, as they will mature during the 15-year period covered by the SDGs. Through the strong commitment of ADB, in partnership with AIESEC, youth are already one step closer to achieving the global goals.