My grandfather was the oldest of six children in a country torn apart by poverty and hunger. By the time he turned 13, he’d watched every one of his younger siblings die from preventable causes. As a first-generation American, I grew up hearing stories of all of the atrocities that plagued my family over the years, and how humanitarian agencies like UNICEF helped their communities survive.

It’s why my passion for the United Nations is a personal one — and why I decided to apply to be the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN. I grew up in rural Tennessee, where seeing local problems through a global lens can be a challenge for many. I wanted to reach young people who might not know what the UN does, what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are, or why they matter. Though they each represent distinct goals, the 17 SDGs are interconnected because poverty, inequality, hunger, disease, and other problems all intersect. For instance, good health and well-being — SDG 3, for example — affects our progress on all of the Global Goals.

The organization I represent, the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), predates the United Nations. World peace advocates launched the organization after World War II with support from leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt to champion the idea that we could prevent global destruction and disaster by creating the UN. Since then, it has evolved to become our nation’s largest grassroots movement in support of the UN’s mission. Every year, over 20,000 supporters come together on behalf of the UN and the global work being done around the SDGs. We travel to Capitol Hill from all 50 states to speak with our nation’s leaders and lawmakers. We lobby for humanitarian workers and the families they serve. We raise our voices because we know that support for the UN comes from Americans everywhere, from coast to coast and the heartland of the United States.

Read the full article about youth and SDG progress by Cynthia Yue at United Nations Foundation.