Let’s get some BSA representation (ages 15-29) on the UN’s Young Leaders initiative

An Eagle Scout speaks during the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, which welcomed 40,000 Scouts from more than 150 countries. Photo by Kevin A. Shaw

When we read that the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth is searching the globe for 17 young people who have influential leadership skills, innovative ideas about the future and a proven ability to make a difference in their communities, we had just one thought:

We need to get some BSA representation in there.

Every two years, a new class of young people ages 15 to 29 is selected for the UN’s Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative.

Let’s start with a couple of definitions:

  • Young Leaders: Recognized by the United Nations as “young people who are excelling in their contributions to helping deliver on the SDGs in their communities.” Every two years, 17 Young Leaders are chosen to serve two-year terms.
  • SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals. As the World Organization of the Scout Movement explains here, SDGs are a set of 17 goals for making the world a better place. The list includes goals like ending hunger, reducing inequality and protecting nature — all areas where Scouts shine.

Young Leaders serve as the face of the SDGs campaign. They’re an action-oriented group that meets to promote existing initiatives and advocate for more awareness through the UN and its partners.

There are 17 Young Leaders selected for each two-year term — one for each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They’ll focus most of their work on the 2030 Agenda — a 15-year plan launched in 2015 to promote people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

The application deadline is March 31, 2022.

A Scouts BSA member leads her troop across the Consol Energy Bridge at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. Photo by Kevin A. Shaw

Who might be a good candidate for a Young Leader?

According to the official site, the Young Leaders for the SDGs will do one or more of the following:

  • Advocate for the SDGs in ways accessible and relatable to young people around the world
  • Promote innovative ways of engaging audiences and peers in SDG advocacy
  • Contribute to a brain trust of young leaders supporting the UN and partners for key moments and initiatives related to the SDGs

In other words, they’re looking for young people who have big ideas — and a proven ability to execute them. And remember, “young people” in this context refers to anyone between 15 and 29 years of age. That means older Scouts, most Venturers, younger Scouting alumni and younger Scouters.

Candidates are judged in five primary areas:

  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Scalability
  • Impact
  • Presentation

Other factors that judges will consider include achievement, influence and integrity.

Let’s put some human faces to those words by meeting some of the 51 Young Leaders selected since the program began in 2016. The 2022 class will be the fourth biennial class, following the 2016 class, 2018 class and 2020 class. Click each class year to meet the Young Leaders from that year.

There has also been one Eagle Scout among the Young Leaders. Read about AY Young, whose Battery Tour concert series, powered by renewable energy, raised money to bring power to villages in Haiti and Honduras.

How to apply (or nominate someone) to be a Young Leader

So how do you nominate yourself or someone you know to be a Young Leader?

Find the application here. And don’t forget about the application deadline: March 31, 2022.

Here’s what to expect:

  1. Create a free Submittable account.
  2. Identify yourself as one of the following:
    1. An innovator
    2. A peacebuilder
    3. A creator
    4. A mover and shaker
    5. A community mobilizer
    6. An inventor
    7. A groundbreaker
    8. A founder
    9. A builder
    10. A changemaker
    11. A designer
    12. A strategist
    13. An organizer
    14. A civil servant
  3. Select your age bracket. Anyone ages 15 to 29 is eligible.
  4. Choose the primary geographic regions and countries your work impacts.
  5. Select which fields best describe your work — topics like arts, business, faith or science.
  6. Answer this question in 50 to 200 words: What is the core idea of your work and the main issue it is attempting to solve?
  7. Answer this question in 50 to 200 words: How are you making a difference (in your sector, community, and/or the world)?
  8. Choose which of the Sustainable Development Goals your work relates to.
  9. In 50 words or less, describe your vision for the world in 2030.
  10. Answer this question in 50 to 200 words: If selected as a Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, what would you seek to achieve during your tenure?
  11. Describe your organization (in this case, you might select the Boy Scouts of America) and your role within it.
  12. Provide up to five supporting materials for your application. You can upload PDFs, photos, documents, audio files and videos.
  13. Add your contact information.
  14. Provide links to any media coverage you’ve received.
  15. Enter the name, email address, and relationship details of two references.

The application process is substantial, but so is the work these Young Leaders are doing.

If you choose to apply, good luck. We hope to see you representing the Boy Scouts of America on the international stage!

About Bryan Wendell 3270 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.