SDG 17 SDG 10 SDG 4
April 19, 2023

From Ideas to Action: KAUST Empowers Youth Leaders for Social Impact

On March 21st and 22nd, the Office of Sustainability collaborated with The KAUST School, KAUST-TKS Office of Engagement & Enrichment, Students for Sustainability, and Saudi Youth for Sustainability to empower young leaders for social impact. The aim of the activities was to inspire the academic community on how to use their voices to drive positive change towards present and future humanity challenges.

The activities were led by Evan Wesley, the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development and Mentorship Programs at Legacy Youth Leadership, a non-profit organization that builds socially conscious and active young people through engaging leadership, coaching, and mentoring programs.

As part of the activities, Wesley gave a lecture open to the community where he explored how youth can use their voice, time, and money to advance causes they care about. Throughout the presentation, Wesley gave real-world examples of young people across the world who are making a positive impact on other people’s lives by being able to use their passion to generate movements around diverse social and environmental issues.

The lecture led to an engaging workshop where participants explored the process of creating a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) for social impact. Organized in collaboration with the Saudi Youth for Sustainability, the workshop counted with the participation of students from several other Saudi universities, as well as young and senior professionals. Participants were taken through a step-by-step process on NGO creation after identifying the sustainability challenges they related to, followed by a tested framework that could allow them to go from idea to action.

At The KAUST School, Wesley engaged with teachers by giving a talk on how to educate a socially conscious generation. He challenged present educators to support their students’ passions and instill a cause-driven mindset to extracurricular programs, providing tips on how to align the school’s mission with such activities. Wesley also connected with students during a talk and group interactions, where he conveyed the importance of caring for the world and others with different realities, and why it is up to us to be the change we want to see.

The program aimed to contribute towards the advancement of SDG 4 – Quality Education, SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, by providing attendants with learning opportunities that supported them in developing, contributing and collaborating towards social equality, environmental protection, and broader sustainable development. To achieve the UN SDGs by 2030, meaningful cooperation and collaboration among government, businesses, and individuals at both the national and international levels is required, and young people are an important part of this equation.

In Saudi Arabia, youth is the driving force of the country’s Vision 2030, as 67% of the population is under 35 according to the General Authority of Statistics. The Kingdom believes and actively invests in its youth, currently delivering several programs and projects aimed at empowering young Saudis to increase their social participation. By offering these activities, KAUST aims to further contribute to the development of conscious global citizens and leaders who can recognize and act on the world’s social challenges.

You can read more on how KAUST is driving positive social change in our SDG Report here.