The Big Conversation

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The Big Conversation is a global conversation on how young people can take a leading role in tackling the most important issues in the world.

You may have heard that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently declared that “young people will be the torch-bearers” of global development. We agree at Restless Development and launched The Big Conversation to explore how we can make this vision a reality. We asked people and organisations across the world to feed in by answering three questions which we’ve posted in a simple online form.

The Big Conversation was led by young people to analyse implications of a poverty-free, more equitable, inclusive and sustainable world where youth are leading development action. Its reach is global and layered – we received responses from countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, from rural and remote areas to urban centres. The findings constitute the building blocks of our new Strategy through 2021 influencing Restless Development both at the local and global level, but they are not just for us. We are sharing the findings for everyone to have an insight on the ways in which young people want development to work.

You can access the Big Conversation data set in Excell format or CSV.


The Big Conversation was led by Restless Development staff and volunteers all the way from rural villages to online platforms. We organised workshops and Focus Group Discussions, conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews and launched a social media campaign to reach as many people as possible both online and offline. The analysis was led by a team of young people formed of staff members and returned volunteers.

To find out more about how the Big Conversation was run read our blog series by the people who led and participated in the conversation on the #WeAreRestlessBlog.

Click below to read the blog:

Big Conversation_Blog Series


Nearly 5000 people from civil Society, Governments, businesses, partners, communities and young people across 64 countries took part in the Big Conversation as of April 2015.

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The Big Conversation is not over, we are interested in hearing more voices throughout the year. Add your voice:



The responses were analysed by Restless Development’s teams across 10 countries and 9 Reports were produced offering insight to the Big Conversation alongside our expertise and local context.

A Youth Strategy team formed of 4 staff members and 4 returned volunteers delved in to the 9 Reports that came out of our Big Conversation to produce a Summary Report.

Click below to read the report:

Youth Team Report

The analysis includes a review of the main pieces of research developed by Restless Development during our 30 years of work with young people, research conducted by partners and stakeholders and an analysis of the data gathered through the Big Conversation in comparison to what has already been studied, looking at variances country to country and according to different demographics. 


The Big Conversation asked, if young people are to become the world’s torch-bearers, towards a poverty-free, more equitable and sustainable world,

  • How must the world change to make this happen?
  • What role will you play in making this happen?
  • What would you most like to see achieved by 2030?

Here is a breakdown of the responses to the 3 questions:

Big Conversation_What needs to change

Big Conversation_What will you do

Big Conversation_What would you like to see achieved


You can access the whole data set in Excell format or CSV.



In 2016, Restless Development will launch its 3rd Global Strategy. As we embarked on the process to develop our new strategy, several key questions were posed:

  • What it is (the new strategy) going to take?
  • How we’re going to engage the world?
  • What are we going to become (as an agency)?

In order to develop our strategy, we wanted to draw from the best of Restless Development, our 30 years of work with young people, as well as the existing knowledge in the broader world of youth and international development. Perhaps more importantly, we committed to bringing in the global youth voice, ensuring that we speak to and meet the needs of young people and the youth sector in a rapidly changing world.

As ever, our success was to be rooted in our Values:

  • Placing young people at the core of what we do and using our ‘can-do’ attitude to deliver this process (Heart),
  • Rigorously synthesising the extensive expertise and knowledge we already have as well as conducting consultations (Head),
  • Asking how we can carry the banner for youth-led development to new levels (Voice), and
  • Ensuring partners, staff, volunteers and young people have a strong voice in how we develop our strategy (Hands).

As a result, we started an open and ongoing dialogue with young people, our staff, partners and stakeholders on the most important issues facing young people in 2015 and beyond, their role and solutions to address development challenges and our role as a the youth-led development agency in supporting young people and the wider youth sector.

This Strategy Brief provides a summary of the consultative process informing the Restless Development new strategy and presents the findings of consultations run between January and May 2015 with young people, partners, stakeholders, and staff members globally, including the Big Conversation. While these findings inform Restless Development’s strategy, we hope they equally inform the world about how youth leadership can address the most important issues facing young people and the world.

Click below to read the Brief:

Strategy Brief


The Big Conversation was part of a process that will lead towards the development of Restless Development's Global Strategy for 2016 through 2021.

Here are the next milestones:

Big Conversation_Timeline

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