The Young UN: Agents for Change initiative started in 2016 with a handful of members and has grown into a global network of more than 800 young professionals in 80 countries, working across the UN system in diverse duty stations and job areas. The network, operating under the vision of UN that fully embodies the principles it stands for, is a positive, constructive, and solution-oriented initiative that functions on the principle of inclusiveness in support of the UN reform agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and innovation.
While most members are under 35 years, everyone with an open, positive and fresh mindset is welcome, there is no cap on age or contract type.
We have established five priority focus groups to structure our work: transparency and accountability; SDG readiness; inter-agency collaboration; technology; and human resources. Our aim is to catalyse, amplify and accelerate change in each of these areas – including by triggering a change in mindsets from siloed and sectoral approaches towards a culture of collaboration and integrated thinking.
Young UN aims to be an engaged, optimistic and constructive voice, bringing creativity, crowdsourcing and innovative solutions. Young UN members across the world coordinate online on a global platform called Slack with like-minded colleagues from the entire UNiverse.
Since the initiative began, the UN Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, President of General Assembly, UN Youth Envoy and many others have voiced strong support for the initiative and promised to work together towards its vision.
As recognised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system, an effective UN will be essential to address twenty-first century challenges but it first needs to change itself. The election of a new UN Secretary-General provides an opportunity to implement reform.
We, as young professionals working in the UN, have the potential to play an important role in these reform efforts, drawing on our creativity and bringing fresh perspectives and long-term commitment to the organization. But we lack a way to share, develop and channel our ideas in a strategic and coordinated way. This initiative provides a platform to do so.
We have diverse ideas to offer – from introducing a cross-UN talent management programme to starting food gardens at UN sites all over the world. We work at three levels to contribute to change:
- Starting a conversation: By providing a forum for open and frank discussion regarding the challenges the UN faces and by encouraging such conversations more widely in the UN, we will support the cultural changes necessary to deliver reform and empower each other to demand more of ourselves, our colleagues and our shared institution;
- Leading by example: We embrace change, contributing to change in a constructive and solutions-oriented way. We pilot practical changes and share our experiences so that successes can be applied in new contexts;
- Advocating change: Drawing from our experience from across the UN system and beyond, we develop and propose solutions to key decision-makers to address challenges identified.
Want to get involved?
Great! If you are currently working at the UN (any part of the UN system, any duty station), please join us on slack, sign up to our mailing list, on LinkedIn and start meeting with other young professionals in your duty station. As a basic guide, projects should be solutions-oriented, cross-UN and in the interests of the charter and principles the UN stands for. For anyone who would like to know more, please contact us at (firstname.lastname@example.org)