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International Youth Day - SUSTAINABILITY: Our Challenge. Our Future.

International Youth Day - SUSTAINABILITY: Our Challenge. Our Future.
Message from Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director
Posted on: UNFPA website

It is often said that young people are our future. They are our present, too. It is today, and not tomorrow, that we must invest in young people and include them in solving the great challenges of our times.

Today, more than a billion and a half people are between the ages of 10 and 25—the largest-ever youth generation—and they are approaching adulthood in a world their elders could not have imagined. The world has been hit by the food, financial and climate crises and many young people are eager to help steer our world into greater balance.

To ensure their full participation, we must invest in their health, education and leadership. This is especially true for adolescent girls, many of whom face discrimination, and are denied opportunities and life choices. Today, more than half a billion adolescent girls live in the developing world and they represent a huge untapped potential. If educated, healthy and empowered, they can build a better life for themselves, and their families and nations.

Fifteen years ago in Cairo, at the International Conference on Population and Development, governments agreed that meeting the needs of current generations should not come at the expense of future generations. And, to achieve sustainable change, they agreed to invest in education and health for all, including reproductive health, to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality, and to involve young people in finding solutions to the issues that affect their own lives and our common future.

Today, I call on governments and policymakers to embrace young people as partners, leaders and agents of change. Now is the time to make greater investments in young people, especially adolescent girls, so they can reach their full potential. Investing in young people today is an investment in a sustainable future.

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Comment by Saji Prelis on August 12, 2009 at 10:05am
Message from: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Ban calls for protection of young against ravages of recession, climate change

12 August 2009 – Young men and women around the world are hit excessively hard by the impact of the global economic meltdown and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today in a message marking International Youth Day.

“In 2007, for example, youth comprised 25 per cent of the world’s working age population yet accounted for 40 per cent of the unemployed,” noted Mr. Ban, adding that in the “near-term, youth unemployment will continue to climb.”

Mr. Ban said that unemployment is only part of the problem, especially for youth in developing countries, where informal, insecure and low-wage employment is the norm, not the exception.

Climate change, he said, continues to compromise economies and threaten upheaval, “saddling people everywhere with an unjust ‘ecological debt.’”

He added that he was also encouraged, however, by the contribution on the global warming mitigation and adaptation debate made by youth.

“Their views and proposals can help build the momentum necessary to ‘seal the deal’ in Copenhagen later this year,” said Mr. Ban, referring to the UN climate change conference in December, bringing together world leaders to agree to a successor carbon emissions pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Stressing that “young people often lead by example: practising green and healthy lifestyles, or promoting innovative uses of new technologies, such as mobile devices and online social networks,” Mr. Ban said they deserve full access to education, adequate health care, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life.

“On International Youth Day, let us renew our pledge to support young people in their development. Sustainability is the most promising path forward, and youth can lead the way.”
Comment by Saji Prelis on August 12, 2009 at 10:00am
Message from:

Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
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In the midst of a series of unprecedented crises affecting the lives of young people all around the world, the theme for this year’s International Youth Day “Sustainability: our challenge, our future” could not be more relevant.

Sustainability refers to three facets of life which are all affected by the current turmoil: the environment, society and the economy. We need urgently to reflect on the challenges they pose for youth. If we do not, their opportunities for development, secure livelihoods and social cohesion will be compromised.

Representing more than 18% of the world’s population, young people have strong potential for contributing to efforts to address these crises: in addition to being the best educated generation so far, they are ambitious, flexible and able to adapt to changing realities. Yet, more than 200 million of them live on less than US$1 a day, 88 million are unemployed, 160 million are undernourished, 130 million are illiterate, more than 10 million live with HIV/AIDS, and young women continue to face barriers in many areas of development. Considering this demographic window of opportunity, it is important to work with youth as equal partners in embracing the challenge of sustainability.

In cooperation with governments, youth organizations, research networks, key development partners the media and the private sector, UNESCO seeks to foster an enabling policy environment for youth development and to support youth-led action, by strengthening knowledge acquisition and management on youth issues, fostering relevant evidence-based research and policy development and encouraging youth participation in decision-making. Reaffirming its commitment to youth, UNESCO has institutionalised a Youth Forum as an integral part of the General Conference, the Organization’ s highest decision-making body. The Forum, which will meet again from 1 to 3 October 2009, will be dedicated to the theme “Investing out of the crisis: what role for young people?” It will allow youth from each Member State to contribute to the development of the Organization’ s programme and action and provide them with the opportunity to voice their opinion on this highly topical challenge and UNESCO’s
role in tackling it.

On International Youth Day 2009, I therefore call on governments, civil society and the private sector to intensify their efforts to work with youth in addressing these challenges; and I encourage all young people to channel their energy and creativity into securing peace and sustainability for future generations.

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