By Santo D. Banerjee
NEW YORK (IDN) – With “uncertainty and insecurity all around”, Secretary-General António Guterres has described young people as “the greatest source of hope”. In welcoming the New Year, he said: “The United Nations stands with you and belongs to you”.
According to the UN chief, the current situation is characterized by: Persistent inequality and rising hatred. A warring world and a warming planet. Climate change is not only a long-term problem but a clear and present danger, he said. “We cannot afford to be the generation that fiddled while the planet burned.”
“But there is also hope,” Guterres added, paying tribute to the power of youth around the planet. “From climate action to gender equality to social justice and human rights, your generation is on the frontlines and in the headlines”, he said. “I am inspired by your passion and determination”.
Noting that young people are “rightly demanding a role in shaping the future”, he said: “I am with you”. “The United Nations stands with you – and belongs to you,” the Secretary-General continued.
He pointed out that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Organization and said that “we are launching a Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our blueprint for a fair globalization”.
“This year, the world needs young people” to keep speaking out, thinking big, pushing boundaries and keeping up the pressure, concluded the Secretary-General wish wishes for “peace and happiness in 2020”.
Guterres’ emphasis on the youth derives from the fact that there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10-24—they are the largest generation of youth in history. Close to 90 per cent of them live in developing countries, where they make up a large proportion of the population. Their numbers are expected to grow—between 2015 and 2030 alone, about 1.9 billion young people are projected to turn 15 years old.
Connected to each other like never before, young people want to and already contribute to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress and inspiring political change. They are also agents of change, mobilizing to advance the SDGs to improve the lives of people and the health of the planet.
Provided with the necessary skills and opportunities needed to reach their potential, young people can be a driving force for supporting development and contributing to peace and security, says the UN speaking about Youth and the SDGs.
“Youth-led organizations need to be encouraged and empowered to participate in translating the 2030 Agenda into local, national and regional policy. They play a significant role in the implementation, monitoring and review of the Agenda as well as in holding governments accountable. With political commitment and adequate resources, young people have the potential to make the most effective transformation of the world into a better place for all,” the UN adds explaining the crucial role of youth.
The UN recognizes young people as rights-holders, and promotes and facilitates transparency, accountability, and responsiveness from governments, international organizations and others toward young people.
This is manifested in the appointment of Jayathma Wickramanayake as United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017. As a global advocate for youth, she works to ensure the participation of young people in issues that matter to them, giving them a voice at the UN and around the world. Championing the SDGs, she also brings the work of the UN closer to young people around the world. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 December 2019]
Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres is photographed by a student during a visit to a school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at Baqa’a Camp in Jordan. Credit: UN
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