A recent Global Financial Integrity study concluded that measurable illicit financial outflows topped the $1 trillion mark in 2013. The inclusion of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the Sustainable Development Goals was an affirmation of the detrimental impact these flows have on the development of low income countries. Amongst the most keenly affected are children, who lose out on quality education due to insufficient government funding. I was able to witness just this, when I spent the 2013 academic year at a village school just outside the city of Zomba, Malawi, a country that GFI estimates loses on average US$650 million per year in illicit outflows.
On February 1st through 2nd, I and other youth representatives from around the world met at the UN’s ECOSOC Youth Forum to discuss how we can actively influence the implementation of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A highlight of the event was a speech by Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, who argued for his “Ten Myths about Youth,” in which he asserted that youth are not the future, seeing as we comprise so much of the world today and are directly and immediately affected by any decisions that take place. Youth are as much the present as any other group in society—participating youth repeatedly expressed their concerns about the current lack of employment opportunities (in advanced and developing economies alike). High levels of youth unemployment are correlated with major losses in human capital development, income and employment stability, and aggregate economic gains.