The youth needs SDG 16 and SDG 16 needs to be achieved with the youth. For young people to shape their futures, they need peace, justice and inclusion. However, they are often most affected by conflict, injustice and exclusion: 43% of all homicides globally involve people between 10 and 29 years of age, and 70% of all human trafficking victims in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2010-2012 were children.

In turn, achieving peace, justice and inclusion in any country is impossible without involving the youth. When young people experience violence, discrimination and limited political inclusion, they lose trust and can turn against the governance systems that are supposed to protect and support them. In the same way, they are an untapped force for peace, justice and inclusion.

The United Nations Security Council’s landmark Resolution 2250 recognizes that young people play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. As highlighted in the Progress Study “The Missing Peace”, many young men and women want to and already do contribute to social cohesion through building peace from the most local levels in their families and communities, through national, regional and international levels. They are working across different kinds of conflict and with different types of violence, including violent crime, gender-based violence, political violence, and terrorism. They are expanding their reach through innovative partnerships with local government, civil society, civic and women’s organizations, and building regional and global networks. The youth is forging new pathways and spaces through arts, culture, sports and especially through the creative occupation of cyberspace, social media and the development of new technologies for peace. Finally, young people continue to contribute to meaningful change through their peaceful protest and dissent by, for example, seeking justice, challenging corruption, demanding freedom of movement and expression, and protesting gun violence.

Member States and international actors need to ‘invest in the upside’ of young people. And to do this effectively, it is necessary to move from exclusion to meaningful inclusion.

Photo credit: @UN Photo/RickBajornas