Generation #ILoveGlobalGoals: How Danish NGOs Can Mobilize Youth to Engage in the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Ida Kristine Sand & Imme Maylin Molch

Student thesis: Master thesis


In 2015, the United Nations adopted the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ that introduces 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) paving the way for a more sustainable future. The Agenda is of an unprecedented nature in its integration of three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection; and in its encompassing call for action to all countries, businesses, civil society organizations and individuals. In Denmark, youth have been highlighted as an important group for achieving the SDGs, and the country has adopted an informal SDG 18 to strengthen, involve and engage youth. To achieve SDG 18, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been identified as important actors to reach youth in Denmark.
Due to the novelty of the 2030 Agenda and youth inclusion, a knowledge gap exists on how to mobilize youth to engage in a global agenda of this nature. Thus, the aim of this paper is to narrow this knowledge gap by identifying key factors for how NGOs can mobilize youth to engage in the SDGs. Furthermore, a special focus on motivations and competences as determinants for engagement is provided by the analytical framework. With its focus on youth inclusion, Denmark is chosen as the context of the study and the empirical data is collected through a multiple case study of six Danish NGOs working as frontrunners in the field of youth engagement. The implications of the collected data lead to the creation of a youth engagement model which encompasses seven main factors, namely motivations, competences, platforms, actors, tools, strategy and target group.
This paper finds that NGOs need to understand the complexity of Danish youth in order to mobilize them to engage in the SDGs. Danish youth will differ in their motivations and competences and therefore, require different strategies to be mobilized. When developing a strategy for how to engage youth in the SDGs, NGOs need to consider the factors of motivations, competences, platforms, actors and tools. However, the choice within these factors will depend on the target group of the NGOs and they must understand the significance of each factor in relation to the context they are in, namely Danish society and youth culture. By exploring the seven factors in the conclusive youth engagement model, this paper further provides a foundation for future research on youth inclusion in the SDGs in Denmark.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages114
SupervisorsAndrew Crabtree