Voices

How I’m Redesigning the Future as a Next Gen Fellow

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¡Hola! My name is Valeria Colunga, I am 20 years old and I live in Monterrey, Mexico. I was nominated by Girl Up to be one of the eight Next Generation Fellows appointed by the United Nations Foundation. 

I discovered Girl Up in 2017 when I saw Cara Delevingne’s visit to refugee settlements in Uganda with Girl Up and UNHCR. I was 16 years old and very passionate about feminism, however I felt that I needed mentorship and a network of support. I was so inspired by Girl Up’s work that I invited my best friend to found a club with me in my hometown. During my presidency in Girl Up Monterrey, I served as a Teen Advisor and co-led the first Girl Up Coalition in Mexico. These experiences taught me about community building, self-care, and intersectionality. My activism began as a self-discovery journey.

In January 2021, the Next Generation Fellows began working on Our Future Agenda, a report with recommendations to respond to current and future challenges as part of the UN Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda. Since then, we have brought young people from across the world to discuss education, jobs, civic engagement and sustainable futures. The Fellows developed a Challenge Paper to expand on background research and hosted The Big Brainstorm to provide an opportunity to youth-led networks to contribute ideas. For months, we debated ideas and proposals with Member States, civil society organizations, non governmental organizations, and many others. 

I am very excited for the launch of Our Future Agenda report. I think the Ten Point Plan to Rejuvenate Multilateralism will be especially meaningful for decision-makers. The Next Generation Fellows advocate for:

  • Reimagining international institutions as a platform for the future
  • Amplifying the voices of young countries and young people
  • Strengthening global leadership for young people
  • Delivering with greater ambition
  • Changing the way we work

I invite you to read Our Future Agenda report and become a designer of our common future. May it be a reminder that you, me and all young people should be listened to.

To learn more about the Our Future Agenda and how you too can become a designer of Our Common Future, check out ourfutureagenda.org

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