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UN Commits to Working For Young People

By Sarah Sladek

“Youth make up 25% of the population, but 100% of the future.” – Lilly Singh, speaking at UN Youth 2030

This week marked a historic event, with the United Nation’s launch of Youth2030. Following is an excerpt from UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ opening remarks at the event which took place in New York:

“It is a rare treat to see so many young people at the United Nations – unfortunately far too rare.

Our world today is very young; home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 – the largest young generation in history.  Today’s young people face enormous challenges due to globalization, new technologies, displacement, shrinking civic space, changing labor markets, and the impact of climate change.

… And too often, young people are excluded by development programs, ignored in peace negotiations, and denied a voice and a seat at the table.

At the same time, young people are a vast source of innovation, ideas and solutions.

Empowering young people, supporting them, and making sure they can fulfil their potential are important ends in themselves.  We want this for all people, everywhere.

But more than this, if we are to create a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world for all to fulfil the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need young people to lead.  That is why today, I am delighted to launch Youth2030 — the UN’s strategy to engage with, but especially to empower, young people.

For many decades, the United Nations has sought to work for young people.  But with Youth2030, I want the UN to become a leader in working with young people:  in understanding their needs, in helping to put their ideas into action, in ensuring their views inform our processes.  And as we change, we will work with our partners to do likewise.”

The UN has identified five key areas for youth focus:

  1. Opening new routes to involve young people and amplify their voices;

  2. Strengthening the UN’s focus on their accessing education and health services;

  3. Placing their economic empowerment at the fore of development strategies, with a focus on training and jobs;

  4. Working to ensure their rights, and civic and political engagement; and

  5. Prioritizing support for young people in conflict and in humanitarian crises, including their participation in peace processes.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), simultaneously announced Generation Unlimited, or Gen-U, a multi-partnership initiative to ensure that all young people are in school, training or employment by 2030.

Noting that a “massive generation is about to inherit our world,” the UNICEF chief called on governments, businesses, foundations, academia, non-profits, communities and innovators to help with the development of “cutting-edge solutions and new ideas and to leave “a legacy of hope and opportunities for them — and most importantly, with them.”

Several other speakers presented at the event, including Batool Alwahdani, a youth speaker representing the International Federation of Medical Students Association, who called on young people themselves to use new technology to innovate, create employment, close education gaps, defend human rights and create peaceful revolutions to help themselves.

“The nature of work is changing very quickly and many, many countries are not prepared,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim noted, saying that jobs will be more digitally demanding and require more perseverance and determination than ever.

Pointing out that there are 1.8 billion people between ages 15 and 30, with developing countries housing half a billion underemployed, or holding insecure jobs and that 300 million have no employment or education, he stressed “we are in a demographic change of extraordinary proportions.”

At XYZ University, it’s our mission to maintain this focus on the next generation, and we have spent the last 16 years guiding membership associations and businesses in strategies for building these bridges, engaging younger generations, and effectively planning for the future.

Earlier this year we appointed a Next Generation Advisory Council to further these efforts and be a valuable resource to our clients. Members of our team volunteer with youth-oriented organizations and we give financially to to support underprivileged schools throughout the United States.

We’re doing our part to support Youth2030 and urge others to follow suit by being their advocates, bringing them to the decision-making tables, and actively working with youth, not just for them.


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