Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended young peoples’ lives and aspirations and heightened their vulnerabilities, UN Secretary-General António Guterres praised the younger generation’s resilience, resourcefulness and engagement.
“They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action. They are mobilizing for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world”, he said in a message marking International Youth Day.
“Many are young women who have been on the frontlines in mobilizing for justice and climate action — while also serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.”
The Secretary-General also underscored that realizing the promise of the young generation requires investing far more in their inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives.
“I call on leaders and adults everywhere to do everything possible to enable the world’s youth to enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity and contribute to the fullest of their great potential,” he added.
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, highlights the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is strengthening national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be enhanced.
Also this year, through the #31DaysOfYOUth social media campaign, UN celebrates young people throughout the month of August, leading up and following International Day, to help spread the word and strike up a conversation surrounding youth engagement for global action.
‘Young people are the trail-blazers of progress’ – UN General Assembly President
Echoing the Secretary-General’s call, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the UN General Assembly, also underlined a “global responsibility” to ensure that young people everywhere have access to just and equitable opportunities to fulfil their rights and aspirations.
“The potential for humanity to create a peaceful, prosperous future will not be reached as long as inequities and discrimination against youth remain commonplace, and young people lack opportunities to have their voices heard,” he said in a separate message on the International Day.
The Assembly President applauded young people for their “amazing contributions” towards a better future. Their movements in their communities and countries, he said, are already improving societies and raising global ambitions, every day.
“In the era of COVID-19 and the long-lasting social and economic negative effects it has on youth – and with only 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – [their] vision and commitment are paramount to creating a more sustainable and inclusive world,” he added.
“With your innovation and ambition, and guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, I am sure that your generation will effectively transform the world into a more sustainable, inclusive and just place for all,” Mr. Muhammad-Bande urged all young people, inviting them to take part in the virtual UN75 Youth Plenary, to be held in September to add their voice to shaping the United Nations for decades ahead.