Cape Town, South AfricaAugust. 8, 2023: Music and lyrics have the powerful ability to resonate with the masses and catalyze positive change, making them particularly significant as the world celebrates International Youth Day.

Celebrated 12 August, International Youth Day is an annual observance designated by the United Nations (UN) to celebrate and recognize young people worldwide. In addition, it also serves as a platform to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the youth population.

In the context of the world’s current climate crisis, this year’s theme, “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World,” highlights the significance of transitioning towards a greener society. The catastrophic impacts of climate change disproportionately affect young people, who will bear the brunt of the environmental challenges left by previous generations.

According to the UN, 1.8 billion people are currently between the ages of 10-24, the largest youth generation to date. Soon, their voices will take center stage—no longer those who currently occupy public offices and Fortune 500 boardrooms. As the global temperature has already risen 1.1ºC above the pre-industrial level—the urgency highlighted by the UN is clear; it is imperative for global citizens to take action to safeguard the planet and the generation that will inherit it.

The Spotify playlist below features five songs that serve to inspire different generations to work “Better Together” — as Jack Johnson aptly puts it. With only seven years left until 2030, the global target to create a world without poverty, a just and peaceful society, and a planet that can sustain us, needs the soundtrack of a lifetime.

  1. Anti-hero – Taylor Swift: “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” While Taylor probably wasn’t writing about rising sea levels or single use plastics when she wrote this 2022 classic, these lyrics hit home. The only way to create sustainable development solutions to the world’s most pressing issues is to admit that we are all part of the problem and actively try and be a part of the solution.
  2.  Ice, Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice: While the song title may be deceiving, this track hasn’t been included to highlight the crisis of melting glaciers. This one-hit-wonder with hundreds of millions of streams worldwide has a very memorable opening line that bears repeating, “Stop, collaborate, and listen.” The best ideas do not always come from those with years of wisdom. Or, as James Okina, a young social entrepreneur and strategic SAP corporate social responsibility consultant says, “If you can collaborate with the ‘next generation of young leaders’, consider yourself fortunate. They will inspire you with fresh ideas.”
  3. Something About You – Roosevelt: “We all need to be brave, optimistic, and excited to try new things together. As DJ Roosevelt points out, there is something [incredible] about you—share it,” shares Natalie Gahre, an SAP sustainability product team member. Individuals who hope to share their unique expertise are invited to join a panel of professionals from Unilever, EY, Reckitt, and SAP on the Transform Support Hub, powered by MovingWorlds. This virtual pro bono consulting platform connects experienced professionals everywhere with young social innovators to expedite world-changing solutions.
  4. Youth – Glass Animals: When it comes to encouraging business leaders to think about the future of their companies, Jess Teutonico, Executive Director of We Are Family Foundation has some sound advice. “Center intergenerational collaboration into everything you do. Engage young people to be a part of your organizations’ decision-making tables. This generation has the creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity to move our planet forward more equitably and sustainably. Why are we waiting for them to ‘grow up’ when they have already proven they are solving our problems now?” Inviting young leaders to global events has the power to bring the right energy and connections together that can ultimately result in advancing solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. We Are Family Foundation is launching new research on the power of intergenerational leadership and they need assistance to support their efforts. Click here to receive the survey when it launches on September 8.
  5. Jerusalema – Master KG ftg. Nomcebo Zikode: After composing the hook for this track, Master KG encouraged Zikode that she had the talent to write the lyrics for this track in a single night, even though she may not have believed it herself. They met their deadline and in 2020, Jerusalema became one of the most Shazamed songs in the world. This song serves as a reminder to have faith—trust one’s instincts and know that sometimes—it just takes two. Someone with a different perspective can have a profound impact on the outcome of a project (or a song).

According to Ferry’s Future of Work Findings, we can expect to see an estimated total talent deficit of 85 million workers in 2030, resulting in $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue globally. In 2021 alone, Africa experienced more than 140 million unemployed youth between 15 – 35 years of age. Besides education, there is an overwhelming need to shift youths’ efforts from seeking conventional employment to creating opportunities for themselves via entrepreneurship.

“Help the World Run Better” is part of SAP’s DNA and the primary driver of what it does as a company. It is evident that the lack of basic education affects the acquisition of future skills. It limits the capability to find gainful employment or to come up with innovative business ideas. For instance, by empowering and supporting youth on International Youth Day and beyond, individuals and organizations can harness their energy, passion, and determination to create a more resilient and sustainable world.