When Angela Li arrived at UTS for her M3 (Grade 9) year, her world opened up. She found herself immersed in a variety of extracurricular activities, while her classroom experience included a deep dive into some of the most critical challenges that societies across the globe are grappling with.
In particular, Angela points to the knowledge she has gathered about the organizations that are working to address these issues.
“UTS has introduced me to a lot of non-profit organizations and charity work, and I’ve really appreciated it,” Angela says. “In M3 we did the Youth Philanthopy Initiative, which exposed me to issues of food insecurity.
“We also talked about non-profits in Grade 10 Civics, and this year, in World Issues, we’ve talked about sustainability. It’s been a recurring theme throughout my education.”
Inspired by her education, including the advice and support of World Issues teacher Laura Ross, Angela is now using what she’s learned about sustainability issues to take concrete action. Last fall, she launched her own Non-Governmental Organization, the Twenty-Thirty Project, with the aim of engaging youth from around the world in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Angela believes getting youth involved will help close a gap in the pursuit of these goals, which include action on climate change, gender equity and hunger.
“With sustainable development goals, people talk a lot about youth, but it’s mostly older people taking the big decisions about things that will affect people of my generation and generations after. I wanted engage youth and get them involved in achieving some of these goals.”
To do that, Angela made connections via a social media campaign, and has successfully created member chapters in about 20 countries. In December, she launched a website, which outlines the NGO’s purpose and will also include blog posts from members.
Angela hopes that the global nature of her organization’s membership will lead to a wide range of topics being explored via the blog.
“For example, with women’s rights, there is often an emphasis on the developed world, and I want to expand it so that people can also see the issues that are affecting the developing world, because I think that’s not talked about enough, especially here in North America,” she says. “I want to help people get out of the box a little bit in terms of what they can conceptualize.”
The blog is only one aspect of Angela’s NGO, however, and despite being launched only recently, the Twenty-Thirty Project is already working on events and partnerships. Specifically, the group is partnering with I Support the Girls, an organization that delivers clothing and menstrual hygiene products to homeless girls and women, for fundraising initiatives to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8.
Angela says the goal is to have every chapter of the NGO hold an event.
“We’re able to connect to all kinds of different people and see the universal issues that affect everyone, but also tailor things to specific locations. For example, in one area they’re looking to reach out to the Houston Women’s Centre, while in another area they’re focused on delivering products to homeless charities in India, because they don’t really have that infrastructure there that they have in North America for accepting donations.”
Angela’s efforts have earned her notice from the United Nations itself. In January, she was invited to attend the 2019 United Nations Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, to be held at the UN headquarters in New York in April. She is looking forward to meeting other young people who share her passion for tackling global challenges at the event – and her belief that these issues can be addressed in harmony with each other.
“I really care about climate action and the environment, and I also really care about women’s issues. I felt like I didn’t know how to reconcile those, but under the umbrella of the sustainable development goals, you see how interrelated all of these goals are.
“I don’t only have to focus on one issue. I can contribute to other issues at the same time.”