The 2022 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit Creates a Safe Space for Collective Action

Updated: Jun 21


2022 GYEO Summit keynote speaker Severa Weerasinghe
Keynote speaker Ananta Sustainables CEO Savera Weerasinghe.

Achieving SDG 8 requires collaborative action, and the 2022 Global Youth Economic Opportunities (GYEO) Summit on May 19 brought together key YEO stakeholders to do just that. The international virtual event built upon the success of the previous Global YEO Summits by facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration while linking learning to action. YEO 2030 breathed new life into the annual summit by creating a space for more than 1,500 registrants— youth, youth-led and youth-serving organizations, policymakers, funders, and the private sector from 120 countries around the world—to take concrete, collective action to help dismantle the barriers youth face to finding decent work.


The four-hour event offered opportunities for attendees to interact and engage in a digital space designed to closely mimic an in-person conference experience. More than 15 presenters graced the online stage, including opening and anchoring keynote talks from AY Young, UN Youth Leader/entertainer, Savera Weerasinghe, Founder and CEO of Ananta Sustainables, a sustainable packaging company in Sri Lanka.


The day centered around 10 rotating breakout rooms hosted by YEO Champions. Inside the breakout rooms, attendees learned how they can participate in the YEO Action Teams and the Teams’ purpose, tasks, and commitments that were developed based on outcomes and findings from our Regional Convening hosted last January. These Action Teams (working groups) fall within the three thematic pillars of YEO 2030 programming—Ready for the Global Workforce, Livelihoods through Self-Employment, and Global Context Matters. Topics included Inclusive Workplaces, the Green Economy, Financing for Youth, and Leveraging Social Capital and Networks. There was also ample time provided for networking within eight active rooms.


Before COVID-19, 559 million young people were without employment, education, or training.” —Youth Champion Claire-Marie Beyet of YIN Global

Savera Weerasinghe closed the event with a riveting talk on youth and their desires in the changing workforce. She encouraged both companies and young people to align their work with values. “How can companies serve the youth? How can you really harness and leverage all of [youths’] new ideas and fresh thinking, [their] pre-jadedness of being in the work environment?” Savera asked. “If we really want to change the systems, we need to be able to understand what the mutual symbiotic exchange is. I think as youth, as people trying to enter an organization, it is understanding, how can I contribute? What can I bring to the table? But as an organization, realizing, what is it that we need? Maybe we can provide an environment to really stimulate and support [youths’] interests and their values.”


Recordings from the Summit will soon be available at YEO2030.org. Stay tuned to learn more about how our Champions and their Action Teams are advancing the achievement of SDG 8 by subscribing to the YEO 2030 Newsletter .