Although the world is on its way towards sustainability, we face numerous challenges, including the elimination of global poverty, reduction of inequality, climate change mitigation, improvement of soil fertility, and water conservation, among many others.

Over the past decade, the solutions have been sought within high-level discussions among international bodies, governments, non-profit organizations and civil societies with little or no involvement of young people. This problem lies at the root of the establishment of the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA) – a partnership between the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and a variety of grassroots organizations that work with children and young people.  

YUNGA, a gateway for young people all over the world to take part in United Nations initiatives, aims to engage them in key activities of environmental and social concern at both national and international levels. As of today, YUNGA has branches in over 20 countries across the globe. 

On September 21, 2019, based on a collaboration between FAO and Awaji Youth Federation, YUNGA Japan was officially launched. The team in charge consists of Waheed from Nigeria, Jerusha from India, Sheka from Bhutan and Gehad from Egypt, with support from AYF office members Pema, Amy, and Rina. YUNGA Japan’s mission is to inspire the next generation of Japanese young people to be active agents of change by creating a community of like-minded youth interested in creating a better world. 

YUNGA Japan helps young people understand global problems and the value their voices can have. They do this through events that focus on educational activities and group discussions.

The first event organized as part of YUNGA Japan was a community beach cleaning activity in Iwaya to commemorate the 2019 World Clean-up Day, which took the form of competition wherein 35 participants collected more than 500 kg of trash. 

In November 2019, YUNGA Japan participated in UNDOKAI World Cup by setting up a booth with interactive activities to teach children about the importance of soil and water conservation. At the booth, visitors enjoyed games, drawing, listening to stories and planting their own seeds to take home.

To celebrate World Soil Day on December 7, the team organized an event for local youth, to educate them on the role soil plays in our environment and health and encourage them to take an active part in agricultural activities. To mark the beginning of 2020, YUNGA Japan invited local families for a Fun Day, where they enjoyed games and workshops, while strengthening connections with the local community.

As a result of these events, YUNGA Japan engaged over 350 young people inside and outside Awaji Island, established contacts with several schools in Hyogo and Kansai, and initiated a collaboration with the Kansai SDG Platform (KSP) hosted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

YUNGA Japan believes that, with the help of AYF members, it can provide a unique international experience, where children can also learn about diversity and multiculturalism. Therefore, they can encourage Japanese youth not only to work towards change, but to partner with people from other countries and build a brighter future together.