VIDEO: Expo 2020 Dubai: Youth climate leader Nisreen Elsaim on prioritising the SDGs in 2022

EXCLUSIVE: The Chair of the UN Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change has told edie that more organisations must champion business models which put planet over profit, if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


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Speaking on the sidelines of the UN’s Global Goals Week (15–22 January 2022) which is being hosted at Expo 2020 in Dubai, Nisreen said the time for “tokenism and selling dreams” is over, and that businesses and world leaders alike must have “clear parameters, milestones and action points” in order to progress the Global Goals agenda.

With just eight years remaining to achieve the 17 Global Goals, Elsaim – who is also chair of the Sudan Youth Organisation on Climate Change – said humanity and nature must be given a higher priority, but also stressed that growth and sustainability can go hand in hand.

“There is no jobs on a dead planet,” Elsaim said. “Whatever we need to do to preserve humanity, nature and the environment should a far higher priority than any other potential benefit or income source.

The 47% 

We can have both; we can have a growth model that preserves the environemnt. It’s a good thing to have a source of income and a growth model, but it’s more important to have a planet to be able to grow on in the first place.”

Two months ago, Elsaim gave an impassioned speech at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, at a Plenary event also attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. During that COP26 talk, Elsaim spoke for “47%” of the world’s population – 15-29 year olds – when she called on Johnson and fellow world leaders to accelerate change. 

Reflecting on that talk, Elsaim said: “I wanted to make very clear that [young people] are a big population. Forty-seven per cent of the world’s population is between 18 and 30, and 62% are between 18 and 35… I had 37 heads of state and prime ministers in the room with me, and I was explaining that these are the people who elect them and these are the people they should listen to, because this is our future.”

Elsiam was speaking to edie during the flagship event of Global Goals Week – a shared commitment between more than 130 partners across civil society, business, academia, and the UN system to accelerate action on the SDGs.

edie at Global Goals Week 

For the first time in its history, Global Goals Week has left the UN General Assembly to be hosted at Expo 2020 in Dubai – and edie is there to report on the action. View all of our Global Goals content here, and discover how your business can accelerate progress towards each of the 17 Goals in our dedicated SDG Spotlight report series, here.


Global Goals at the Sustainability Leaders Forum 2022

The Sustainable Development Goals are a running theme of edie’s flagship event of the year, the multi-award-winning Sustainability Leaders Forum.

Taking place live in London on 8–9 March 2022, the event will re-unite business leaders, sustainability practitioners, policymakers, investors and NGOs around a common goal: to turn the ambitions of COP26 into meaningful climate actions and to truly transform business, for good.

Find out more and secure your place at the Forum here.


edie staff

© Faversham House Ltd 2022 edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

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