Big Brainstorm 2023

Launching a year of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals

The Big Brainstorm is an opportunity for young thinkers and activists to design their future. Supported by the United Nations Foundation, young leaders from around the world will come together to embark on a two week design sprint to explore, prototype, and launch initiatives to tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

The theme of the 2023 Big Brainstorm is “A Year of Action for the SDGs.” The upcoming second SDG Summit is an opportunity to accelerate action to solve the world’s most urgent problems, with young people at the forefront of change.

It is also a turning point to drive collective action for both people and the planet. The most successful initiatives will be spotlighted during the SDG Summit to demonstrate that meaningful progress on the 17 Global Goals is possible.

All young changemakers who engage in the Big Brainstorm will also be members of the Engine Room to Unlock the Future – a wider space for young people to forge connections, mobilize, and drive our efforts to rejuvenate the multilateral system.

The Big Kick-Off

16 February 2023 // 9:00-10:30 am ET

How it works

26 January 2023 Deadline

Open Call

Interested in joining the Big Brainstorm? Click register now to tell us which of our 8 Action Groups you would like to work with. Here you can also propose your own initiative for the chance for it to form part of an Action Group’s agenda, and be supported by the Next Generation Fellows.

16 February 2023

Big Kick-Off

A virtual event for mentors, partners, and young changemakers who are interested in contributing to one of the Action Groups. Each Action Group will give a short presentation showcasing the objectives of successful initiatives from our open call for submissions.


Action Groups and Spotlight sessions

Throughout the Big Brainstorm, mentorship and support will be provided to each initiative within the 8 Action Groups to help build the networks and momentum they need to succeed. This includes a check-in with the UN Foundation team, and roundtables with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.

28 February 2023

Big Pitch

Each Action Group will be given 8 minutes to present to partners, donors, and other young thinkers and activists. An intergenerational panel will provide feedback during the Big Pitch, and there will be a prize-giving for the most creative, ambitious proposals.

19-20 September 2023 (SDG Summit)

After the Event

After the Big Brainstorm, support from the Unlock coalition will continue to be provided for Action Groups to deliver on their plans. Key achievements will be showcased during the SDG Summit in September 2023, and progress and achievements of Action Groups will be shared throughout our network in the monthly Unlock newsletter.

Action Groups

Youth-led and youth-focused initiatives will be housed under Action Groups coordinated by the UN Foundation Next Generation Fellows. Each Action Group will include 1-3 initiatives. These Action Groups are charged with a challenge to prototype initiatives to solve real-world problems facing young people, based on the primary challenges identified in Our Future Agenda.

1. Transforming education

Building on the momentum of the Transforming Education Summit, how can we encourage national and local leaders to prioritize the “right to learn”, even during a compound global crisis?

2. Jobs and economic opportunities

Young people are not equipped for a rapidly changing world. What investments must be made to propel young people into productive employment and decent work, with a focus on digital, demographic, and de-carbonization transitions that leave no one behind?

3. Climate and sustainability

In preparation for COP 28, how can we support, listen, and engage young people in decision-making discussions and processes about climate change, especially across intersectional issues on climate financing, energy security, food systems, migration, plastic pollution, and more?

4. Peace and justice

In a world fragmented by injustices and conflict, the path to true peace, justice and inclusion requires a local-to-global approach. How can we provide young people with access to justice, taking justice out of the courtroom and into the communities in which they live?

5. Future generations

There are fewer than 8 billion people currently alive, but more than 11 billion people are likely to be born during the rest of this century. How can we ensure that young people and young countries are in the driving seat in the lead up to and at the 2024 Summit of the Future?

6. Gender Equality

Multiple global crises have unraveled hard-won achievements on gender equality and significantly set progress back. How could we address compounding issues impacting girls and women and collectively identify and drive evidence-based solutions?

7. SDG Summit

Leveraging the collective action of the Unlock the Future Coalition, how can we put young people at the heart of the mobilization efforts as designers of the SDG transformation process and champions for the rights of future generations?

8. Financing for young changemakers

Youth civil society is not thriving – and in many cases, not surviving due to resourcing challenges. How can we improve the quantity, quality, and accessibility of financing for young changemakers?

Big Brainstorm 2022

For our coalition’s inaugural Big Brainstorm, we invited anyone who was passionate about shaping the future to create, lead, or participate in an Action Group. The only requirement was that groups had to be led or co-led by young people.

For an overview of what happened during the Big Brainstorm 2022, including information on all the Action Groups who presented at the Big Pitch 2022, click here…

You can also watch last year’s Action Groups at the Big Pitch below.

2022 Action Group Progress Report

Since our inaugural Big Brainstorm in February 2022, the Action Groups have now had nearly a year to crystallize their vision for impact, build networks, and implement their projects.

We checked in with them to catch up on how their work has progressed over the year, and to share their successes in our Action Group Progress Update report.

Watch 2022’s Action Groups at the Big Pitch


Digital Divide

Jobs for
young people

Gender Equality, Climate
and Sustainability

Justice Leaders

Mental Health
and Wellbeing


Youth Action

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