AFS Youth Assembly: Breakthrough to a Better Future

IOM Office UN (NY)
4 min readAug 17, 2023

The Importance of Youth

The active participation of young people is pivotal in driving sustainable development and realizing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Young people’s perspectives, innovation, and expertise are necessary in creating a more equitable and inclusive future. In this context, migration stands as a salient issue, as youth and children constitute over 21 percent of migrants globally. Thus, it is important to center the voices of youth and young migrants in policy-, decision- and change-making.

International Youth Day 2023

International Youth Day, celebrated annually on 12 August, serves as a reminder of the significance of youth in change-making. Spearheaded by the United Nations, International Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of young people to a more sustainable future. The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is “Green Skills For Youth: Towards A Sustainable World” — an issue that resonates deeply with the challenges our world faces today.

United Nations Headquarters Celebration

To launch International Youth Day 2023, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs organized a global webinar in collaboration with the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and Generation Unlimited. The webinar highlighted new data on green skills for youth and facilitated a youth-led discussion about the role of green skills for a more sustainable future.

IOM Office to the United Nations Celebration Together with AFS Intercultural Programs

As part of the global celebration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office to the UN commemorated the day by fostering dialogue about green skills and migration as a part of the 28th Session of the AFS Youth Assembly. The Assembly is a global platform that cultivates an international network of young leaders and changemakers through exchange, education, action and impact. This year’s Assembly gathered over 1,000 young people from 100 different countries to discuss climate entrepreneurship, international affairs, global education, and more. The theme of this year’s Assembly was “Breakthrough to a Better Future.”

AFS International Youth Day celebration at UN Headquarters, New York, August 11 (Photo Credit: AFS)

One highlight of the Office’s engagement was a panel discussion featuring Ms. Amira Nassim, a Migration Policy Officer at IOM’s Office to the United Nations. The panel was themed “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World” and took place on 11 August, the first day of the Assembly. In the panel, Amira discussed the connection between green skills and migration acknowledging that green skills encompass far more than just a set of technical skills — rather, green skills are a philosophy embodying the knowledge, values, and attitudes needed to live in, develop, and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. Thus, IOM recognizes green skills as a tool for empowerment and resilience-building among migrants.

AFS Youth Assembly Panel featuring Ali Mustafa, Amira Nassim, and Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, August 11 (Photo Credit: AFS)

“We want to draw attention to the fact that migrants with green skills are in the middle of climate action and at the front lines of the climate emergency. Their skills will not only help them access better jobs and fill in labor gaps, but also make them, in practice, a first line of defense against climate change. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to center their voices in this conversation.” — Amira Nassim, IOM Office to the United Nations

Additionally, the IOM Office to the UN commemorated International Youth Day by facilitating a workshop titled, “Global Solidarity: Multilateralism and Regional Cooperation for a Better Future” on August 13, the last day of the Assembly. The workshop featured a case study that examined the intersection of migration, youth, multilateralism and regional cooperation for a better future. Themes that emerged from the case study included the importance of protection and access to basic services, including health and education, as well as the need for social integration and linguistic services. The issue of skills transfer and recognition of qualifications was also discussed as a method of facilitating youth migration.

Amira Nassim Leading “Global Solidarity: Multilateralism and Regional Cooperation for a Better Future” Workshop, August 13 (Photo Credit: Amina, AFS)

“We talked about language, because it is most important that they are able to communicate in the place they are migrating to. We recommend implementing language development opportunities, healthcare policies, social cohesion opportunities — everything a migrant would need to get on their feet as they are integrating into a new community.” — Youth Participant in Workshop, Debrief after Case Study

Discussion of Case Study at Workshop, “Global Solidarity: Multilateralism and Regional Cooperation for a Better Future”, August 13 (Photo credit: AFS)

In conclusion, International Youth Day 2023 was an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the role of youth, including young migrants, in sustainable development. IOM’s Office to the United Nations’ engagement, particularly through the panel discussion and workshop, underscored IOM’s commitment to uplifting the voices of diverse young people and empowering them to take the lead in promoting sustainable development. We look forward to continued conversations about how we can play a meaningful role in creating space for youth voices from all over the world.

This article was written by Ms. Willow Newcomb, Migration and Sustainable Development Unit, IOM Office to the United Nations.

Sources: Essentials of Migration Management 2.0, 2020



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