Barbadian named among UN SDG Young Leaders

United Nations – A Barbadian national is among the 2022 cohort of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced by the United Nations while recognising their efforts to bring about a fairer future for people and the planet.

Every two years, the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth picks out young changemakers, who are at the forefront of attempts to combat the world’s most pressing issues, and whose leadership is catalysing the achievement of the SDGs.

Six years ago, Ronelle King, a multi-award-winning gender justice activist, founded the #LifeInLeggings hashtag, a safe space for women who had experienced sexual violence to express themselves.

It evolved into a grassroots organisation: women, encouraged by solidarity, were empowered to speak out on their social media platforms about their experiences.

King has played a major role in the “Reclaim Our Streets” women’s solidarity march, and Pink Parliament, which seeks to increase women’s participation in decision-making spaces, which was awarded a 2021 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Award in the category, ‘Democratising Governance Processes and Systems’.

Her other awards include the 2017 Youth Hero Award, the 2018 Queen’s Young Leader Award by the late Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, the 2022 Future Island Leader Award, and the 2022 Ignite Caribbean 30 under 30 Change-maker Award.

In a statement, the UN said that the current cohort of leaders were chosen following an open call for applications earlier this year, which resulted in more than 5 400 applications from over 190 countries. Since launching six years ago, the initiative was collectively reached millions of young people around the world.

“The 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a diverse, highly accomplished group, all between the ages of 17 and 29, who hail from all corners of the world and work across all pillars of the UN, including sustainable development, human rights, and peace and security,” the UN statement read.

Among them are an aspiring astronaut, a poet, and a Paralympic medallist. Others range from artists to climate entrepreneurs, and education innovators.

“The 2022 class of Young Leaders for the SDGs represents an incredibly diverse, intersectional and inspirational group of young people who reflect the very best of global youth activism and advocacy when it comes to challenging the status quo and creating a better world for all,” the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake said.

“Even amidst the ongoing pandemic, climate crisis and global instability, these young people demonstrate immense resilience, resourcefulness and leadership in finding innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.’

Seven years ago, 195 nations agreed with the UN that they can change the world for the better. They said this will be accomplished by bringing together their respective governments, businesses, media, institutions of higher education, and local NGOs to improve the lives of the people in their country by the year 2030.

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