Youth Infomediaries: agents of accountability for the SDGs

As the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were being launched last September, Heads of State and Government made a commitment to “accountability to our citizens” in the implementation of this new agenda. In 2016, when we talk about citizens, we’re mainly talking about young people: the 3.5 billion people on the planet who are under 30 years old. The problem is that most of the current proposals on “follow-up and review” for the SDGs reduce young people’s role to volunteering as representatives in meetings; undermining both their potential and their agency as accountability advocates. Watching from the sidelines, young people will ‘at best’ be vocal commentators on what’s (not) happening and ‘at worst’ disillusioned bystanders. There are surely more useful things that the biggest generation of youth ever can be doing than simply sitting in meetings.

In response to this challenge, Restless Development has 15 practical recommendations for governments and intergovernmental partnerships for scaling up ambition on youth-led social accountability. These recommendations particularly target countries where there is a youth bulge, but where the majority of elected representatives and decision makers are at least one or two generations older. Putting these into action would also give a boost to the data revolution: if data is the asset accountability advocates have been waiting for, youth are the agents. There won’t be a data revolution without users; who must be able to access information that meets their needs rather than the needs of the data providers.

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