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On October 31 2018, SDSN Youth in partnership with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) hosted its third annual Vatican Youth Symposium in Vatican City. Youth Coordinator of SDSN Australia, New Zealand & Pacific, Michelle Huang, was in attendance representing the Network.

The event brought together over 80 young leaders from more than 30 countries to explore the themes and challenges of global development. This year’s theme, ‘Youth Leadership for Integral Human Development’, called on participants to fortify the global youth movement for sustainable development, and strengthen their commitment to partnerships for the 2030 Agenda.

The Symposium brought a wealth of expertise in areas of advocacy, education, innovation, and philanthropy towards the SDGs.  Attendees came together to learn from these experts and each other, addressing the barriers that young people face whilst also celebrating their enormous contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In their opening address, Professor Jeffrey Sachs and Monsignor Sanchez Sorondo encouraged participants to be courageous and bold in their efforts, and to stand together in supporting each other in their respective communities and organisations.

Monash alum and CEO of Global Citizen, Hugh Evans, gave a compelling account of his experience leading social movements to end extreme poverty. On a trip to the Philippines as a teenager, he came to learn about the harsh realities of extreme poverty whilst living in a slum in Manila. His friendship with a teenager named Sunny Boy inspired him to begin work towards tackling the causes of poverty, and eradicating all forms of extreme poverty within his lifetime. SDG financing was also brought to the forefront, as Djaffar Shalchi of the Human Act Foundation stressed the need for the world’s wealthiest to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

The dedication of young people in achieving the SDGs, and tackling the world’s toughest challenges was evident in the presentations given by representatives from Tespack, the Millennium Campus Network, CAP International, and multiple other organisations. They addressed issues such as human trafficking, technology, sustainable supply chains and SDG education. SDSN Youth presented three of its initiatives which are fostering youth leadership and solutions-based action on the SDGs: the Global Schools Program, the Youth Solutions Hub, and the SDG Students Program.

At the conclusion of the event, participants openly expressed that the lessons learnt will transcend far beyond the symposium itself, as they reaffirm their commitment to be the generation to deliver tangible solutions to the most pressing environmental, economic and social challenges of our time.

For more on this momentous occasion, and information on previous symposiums, please visit the SDSN Youth website. The proceedings from this year’s Vatican Youth Symposium can be viewed on Casina Pio IV’s YouTube channel.