Conversation with Tere González, UN Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals

Today you don’t need superpowers to contribute to the global fight to eradicate poverty, combat climate change and eliminate inequalities. What our world needs are people committed to put their talents to serve for social good and work hard, very hard, within their possibilities and context.

Tere González is our YABT Program Officer, a young Mexican woman who defines herself as a global citizen and she is also known as @globaltere. She is a social entrepreneur since the age of 16 and co-founder of two NGOs: Liter of Light Mexico and Fundación Qohélet. It is due to her trajectory that the United Nations recently appointed her as one of the 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), standing out among more than 18,000 nominations from all around the world.

The work and activism that she and her teams lead, contribute everyday to achieve the SDGs. Today on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we talked to Tere, who is convinced that everyone has a role to achieve an equal world.

What does it mean to you to be a UN Young Leader actively working for the SDGs?

This appointment represents to me a permanent commitment to consistency, creativity, and empowerment. As a young leader, I took the challenge to join today, along with many other people, to the global progress plan. I will not be young forever, so there is no time to waste; it is time to build bridges between generations, across sectors, and realities. I feel extremely honored and with a big responsibility to share my enthusiasm and my actions towards the SDGs achievement along with other young people that, just like me, are already generating change or aspiring to do it.

How do you contribute as YABT Program Officer to eradicate poverty?

There is a key SDG for YABT, number 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. As a Program Officer, I am commissioned to constantly create new international projects that encourage young people like me to undertake, to believe in their crazy ideas, put them in order, make them viable and earn a living after them. Entrepreneurship is an alternative way out of poverty, and the inventiveness that lives in our Latin American and Caribbean region is a huge source of opportunities that we can canalize through YABT. Poverty can be eradicated if we weave the right alliances and provide useful tools to thrive in the current global context.

What do the organizations that you founded have to do with the SDGs?

They have absolutely everything to do! It is important to remember that the 17 Global Goals are interconnected, if one is not achieved, the puzzle is incomplete. For example, it is impossible to reverse school dropout rates if we do not fight as well for gender equality, access to water, food, clean energy, at the same time as we generate sustainable cities. Every link in the chain counts.

Liter of Light Mexico and Fundación Qohélet, work side by side for the integral and sustainable development of various marginalized communities. Liter of Light provides a solar-light alternative that is sustainable, ecological and low-cost, especially designed for those households that don’t have access to electricity or cannot afford it. Fundación Qohélet is responsible for the empowerment of these communities in the long run, this model facilitates the reconstruction of the social tissue by addressing violence, addiction and crime, with new social and productive skills.

Having light at home changes everything, simple activities that in many places are taken for granted are made possible. Studying, having a business at home, cleaning, cooking, sharing a meal, among many other tasks are impossible without a proper light-source. In addition, the lack or difficulty to develop any of these, limits development and opportunities for anyone.

Finally, what message would you like to convey to the young people that are reading you?

Today there are more young people than ever before in the world’s history and the UN is opening its doors to us more and more. The SDGs are an ideal arena for youth entrepreneurship; there is room to start up all of our ideas. We are the first generation that can end poverty and reverse the effects of climate change. Don’t expect to be a leader tomorrow, you are a leader today. You can count with me, YABT, Liter of Light Mexico, and Fundación Qohélet. What else could you ask for?

Follow Tere and her journey as a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, through @globaltere via Twitter and Instagram.