Youth and technology: 5 ways we’re changing the world
As a user of digital platforms and a professional in the communications field, I see how quickly and effectively technology has opened doors, connected people from remote communities with the same interests, and provided new opportunities to women, vulnerable groups and especially to young people.
Technology has helped immensely to boost access to large amounts of information and has supported changes that have transformed our lives forever. The innovative potential of young people, combined with the power of technology, is already proving to be a powerful force on the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, youth actively contribute to the creation of new jobs, economic empowerment of vulnerable groups, the promotion of better health systems and access to inclusive and quality education.
Here are five stories where avant-garde technology, creative ideas and young and passionate visionaries intertwine to give life to development initiatives that are changing the world.
1. Green thinking
RecLeb – Recycle the Smart Way is a project developed by Khalil, a 23-year-old electrical and computer engineer, aiming to the high levels of pollution in Lebanon resulting from improper waste management.
RecLeb will help residents classify their solid waste through a mobile web platform, promoting “green thinking” among the community and healthy environments for young people.
2. Enterprising solutions
Hayfa Sdiri is a 19-year-old Tunisian social activist, blogger and founder of Entr@crush. This is an online platform designed for young entrepreneurs, where people with similar ideas and interests converge: young entrepreneurs, investors and sponsors.
This non-profit initiative, initially developed by five members and with almost no seed capital, promotes entrepreneurship and innovation and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.
The platform has brought together young entrepreneurs willing to provide their knowledge for free, teaching virtual learning courses on a variety of topics that serve future entrepreneurs. For women who live in remote areas, this platform is a way to gain new skills and set up businesses, without the need to travel to the cities.
A young man with a prosthetic arm paints on a mural.
In Honduras, a group of young doctors, engineers and industrial designers developed an orthopaedic prosthesis model produced with 3D printing technology. Photo: María José Rodríguez/UNDP Honduras
3. Preventing violence
Putting an end to physical and verbal violence and sexual harassment in commercial establishments in Brazil, together with reducing the gender gap in information technology, was the goal of the creators of the application Não me calo (I will not shut up, in English).
This app classifies commercial premises according to the number of incidents reported by users and identifies those areas of higher risk for being harassed or assaulted.
At the same time, Não me calo encourages diners to make complaints and request the owner of the premises and government representatives to take measures to improve security in the place.
4. Robot-assisted participation
Badia is a messaging robot designed to shorten the communication gap between government authorities and citizens. It was developed by Montassar, a 25 year-old architect and university professor in Tunisia.
This entrepreneur has devised an innovative solution to address the lack of citizen participation in his hometown of Sidi Bouzid. The chatbot answers questions from residents on issues related to the local budget, promoting the flow of information and citizen participation.
5. Multi-dimensional thinking
Supporting the entry of youth who have suffered some disability during migratory processes or as a result of violence in the labour market was the vision of the young doctors, engineers and industrial designers in Honduras who gave life to an orthopaedic prosthesis model produced with 3D printing technology.
The prototype, which has been developed using only the printer, a laser cutter and a computer with design software, offers a better quality of life of people with disabilities and a big step towards achieving the SDGs.
These are just a few of the millions of young people who are helping to bring about change around the world. Promoting the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people and communities is a challenge that young people have taken on with passion and commitment. They just need support and opportunities from governments, civil society and the private sector, and the involvement of their own communities. Providing access to education and financing, boosting their creativity and innovation and simply believing in their ideas will help them make their projects and visions a reality. With this kind of support, youth can play a huge role in bringing about the world we want by 2030 – a world of peace, prosperity and inclusion, leaving no one behind.