UN head hails young people as champions of a more sustainable world

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UN head hails young people as champions of a more sustainable world

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Today, August 12, is observed as International Youth Day.

The theme of the UN-led observance is 'Youth Engagement for Global Action', intended to highlight the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life in enriching local, national and multilateral institutions and processes.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the theme spotlights the ways in which the voices and activism of young people are making a difference and moving the world closer to the values and vision of the United Nations Charter. 

He argued that while the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of young people and is jeopardising their future in many respects, the generation is resilient and resourceful and is poised to achieve its fullest potential with investment from leaders and adults.

Said Guterres: “This year's Youth Day occurs as the lives and aspirations of young people continue to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have lost their lives, and many have seen family members and other loved ones perish. The vulnerabilities of young refugees, displaced persons, young women and girls and others caught up in conflict or disaster have grown more acute. 

“A generation's very formation has been jeopardised, their steps towards adulthood, identity and self-sufficiency thrown off course. Some have taken on care burdens or are suffering from increased risks of hunger, violence in the home or the prospect of never being able to resume their education. But this generation is also resilient, resourceful and engaged. 

“They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action. They are mobilising for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world. They are peacebuilders promoting social cohesion at a time of social distancing, advancing an end to violence globally and advocating harmony at a time of rising hatred. Many are young women who have been on the frontlines in mobilising for justice and climate action — while also serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. 

“Realising the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people's inclusion, participation, organisations 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.”

International Youth Day was first observed in 2000 and provides an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples' voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.

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