Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

World Youth Report Launch Welcoming Remarks

Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Launch of the World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement.

Prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Youth Report, first published in 2003, is a biennial publication that highlights current and emerging issues most pertinent to youth issues.

This Report on the topic of Youth Civic Engagement explores youth participation in economic, political and community life and has been prepared as a response to growing policy interest in the effective engagement of youth.

The report is online and available for download via DESA’s website.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s launch is particularly timely as it coincides with the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, taking place here in New York this week. The Forum is the apex platform for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Youth engagement in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is essential, and in launching the World Youth Report today, we hope to provide a tool to better enable youth engagement in this historic undertaking.

Achieveing sustainable development requires the active involvement of young women and men in all spheres of life.

To this end, the Report addresses engagement across a diverse range of areas, including sport, volunteerism, internships, digital activism and peacebuilding. To explore these areas, the Report presents the valuable accounts of twelve authors, whose specific expertise, analysis, perspectives and suggestions allow the Report to be used as a reference for ongoing engagement and policy discussion.

We expect the Report to contribute to growing dialogue on how youth civic engagement can act as an enabling force for young people in the formulation of youth-related policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For many young people today engagement in many spheres of life is a challenge.

Over 73 million young people are unemployed, and many more, particularly those in low and middle-income countries, are under-employed working in the informal sectors of the economy.

As the Report highlights, young people’s opportunities for effective economic engagement are further compromised in general by a lack of incentives for entrepreneurship, diminishing labour rights, as well as inadequate skills and education.

As we mark World Youth Skills Day today, it is clear from our discussions that the issue of youth economic engagement is one that is at the top of our agenda.

We have also found evidence of many instances where both young people and policy makers are working hard to find joint solutions to ensure young people are equipped with the relevant skills to enhancing opportunities  for a secure decent work.

In political life too, young people face challenges to meaningful participation.

Unable to recognize themselves in their political institutions and structures, many young people seek to engage in new and innovative ways, becoming more involved in cause-oriented activism, both online and offline.

Whether through social media, political protests or starting their own businesses, young people are creating solutions to their most pressing challenges and in doing so, redefining the terms of civic engagement.

Yet, while it is vital that young people play a central role in addressing issues that affect them, they cannot tackle these challenges alone.

When working in partnership, policy makers and youth, through the development of inclusive policies and actions, can harness the benefits of youth participation in all aspects of society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through the 2030 Agenda we strive to create a world that is free from poverty, a world that is just and equitable, a world that leaves no one behind.

At the same time, it is clear that many of the challenges we aim to tackle through the Sustainable Development Goals, such as unemployment and underemployment, poverty, inequality, violence, gender inequality, and social exclusion, can be only be tackled with the full and active participation of youth.

I look forward to the discussion and your insights on how to enable and enhance  youth engagement.

Thank you.

Please check against delivery.

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