Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 17 May 2012
I am a person who likes to go for broke. Unfortunately, I broke my hand last weekend playing soccer.
But nothing could stop me from being here today. I’ve been looking forward to meeting with all of you. I wanted to do something different so I took to Twitter and asked young people around the world what they wanted to hear about. The response was amazing.
The title of my speech today is “Youth of the World: Make Some Noise!” Can I hear some noise from you?
I am speaking to you and everyone watching by webcast … to all the youth who sent us messages … and to all people, young and old, who are ready to make some noise for our planet and its future.
There are two trends at work here.
First: Young people are taking the global stage as never before.
Second: Social networks are shrinking our planet.
I call you “Generation UN”. You are global … you understand our common bonds … and you know how to network.
I am not going to give you a big speech full of rhetoric about stopping poverty and saving our planet. You already understand the problems of our world. And I can see you have the energy to fix them.
I don’t need to inspire you – you already inspire me.
I hope you saw my message on Twitter for this meeting.
In about 20 languages, I asked youth around the world to tell me the future you want.
Here is what I heard:
Aaron from Canada wants “a world with equality, social justice, and liberty for all.”
Caroline from Uganda wants “a United Nations with authentic youth participation and engagement.”
Sebastian from Ecuador, who is visually impaired, asks for a world with “the same opportunities for all people’s needs, special or not.”
Tumisang from South Africa wants a future where “all African children have access to quality education, regardless of their parents’ economic background.”
Yovan from Bosnia and Herzegovina wants “a healthy and safe environment without discrimination towards LGBT people.”
Aisha from Nigeria says we should “light the world” with energy.
Emma from Australia wants “everyone in the world [to have] access to food and basic human services.”
Rawan from Jordan wants “a future where human rights are guaranteed [to] everywhere in this world! Where we appreciate people for their values not money!”
Aleksa from Germany wants “a future where gender equality is not only theory but also practise.”
I support all of these ideas. I mean it when I say I will listen to the voices and concerns of young people – not just in cyberspace but in our meeting place.
We have an important opportunity to make the future we want.
But time is tight.
In about four weeks, five days, fourteen hours and fifty minutes, we will open the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
The truth is: I am disappointed with the negotiations. They are not moving fast enough. That is why I need you.
When I say make some noise, I mean raise your voices. Demand real action. Shame those governments into doing more.
We have an ambitious plan for real progress.
But we need agreement on the tough issues.
I told governments to start now. We cannot wait until they get to Rio.
Success will mean light in homes where people live in darkness. It will mean food for families that are now hungry. Agreement in Rio will protect our oceans and improve life in cities. It will create progress across our planet.
I respect the government negotiators. Many of these folks have devoted their lives to public service. I myself am 67. I have great respect for older people.
But youth have a special ability to demand change. That is why I am coming to you.
Here is a To-Do list of a dozen actions you can take.
One: Write to your country’s leader and tell them to go to Rio+20.
Two: Get your friends to register a real commitment for sustainable development on our Rio+20 website.
Three: Join the UN Environment Programme/UNESCO YouthXChange.
Four: Build networks with young entrepreneurs using business for development.
Five: Write letters to the editor to demand action on the issues at Rio.
Six: Send your government the ideas you want to see in the Rio outcome or national law.
Seven: Tell your governments to include youth in their delegations to Rio.
Eight: Get involved in the Major Group – that’s a caucus – negotiating on Children and Youth at Rio.
Nine: Organize events on the Conference in your schools and communities.
Ten: Build relationships with government officials to demand action after Rio.
Eleven: Share your stories with us! We’ll put them in our Youth Flash Newsletter.
Finally: Spread the message through Facebook, Twitter and all the other networks you have.
You take any of these actions – and you can come up with your own ideas. Just get involved.
I want to end this speech where I started it – on Twitter. I am going to post my last line there. After this meeting, go to @UN [“at UN”] to see my final message to you.
Now, I will give you a hint: you will all be part of it.
When I say “One, two, three” I want everyone to raise both hands if you will take action for the future we want.
Make some noise for our planet – okay?
Here we go: Everybody, raise both hands. Let me hear you make some noise!
One… Two… Three!