KOSUA ADUBEA AGYEPONG, Youth Representative, Ghana, said that the perspectives of young people like her are informed by their work from the local to the global level. “We have a few questions for you,” she said, asking: “Have you all remained true to the UN Charter?” Stressing the indispensability of multilateralism, she noted that it is vital to acknowledge that the world has for centuries dealt with the silent pandemic of sexual and gender‑based violence. Applauding world leaders taking action to achieve gender parity within their Governments, she said the world also needs to achieve youth parity in Government, industry and the private sector. The international community needs the ingenuity, innovation, energy and leadership of young people, she said, calling on the United Nations to address the fact that 72 million young people are unemployed, 142 million youth of upper secondary age are out of school and 12 million girls are married against their will.
SHARIFAH NORIZAH, Social Entrepreneur, Friends for Leadership, Malaysia, called for increased momentum towards youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes. The United Nations must have more inclusive investment in youth‑led activities, she said, highlighting the need for extensive support in global employment and entrepreneurship, in particular decent jobs that promote well‑being and sustainable livelihoods. “Youth shouldn’t be counted just to complete quotas in a tokenistic manner,” she stressed, asking for concrete and sustainable actions to support those who are systematically left behind, especially youths with disabilities, those living in rural areas and gender minorities. Youth professionals can become the bridge between Government and private sectors, she noted, calling for enhancements in e‑learning as well as innovative institutions such as youth centres and youth councils.
N. CHARLES HAMILTON, Climate Change and Public Health Advocate, Bahamas, called for greater urgency, increased action and broader intergenerational governance structures to support young people in small island developing States, the Caribbean, coastal and indigenous communities, and in least developed countries. Highlighting two top priorities, he pointed to the urgent need for recovery from the coronavirus and addressing the climate crisis. Young people had inherited these crises despite having a minimal historical contribution to these problems. “The game feels rigged,” he said, as the international community runs out of names for hurricanes in 2020, with swaths of the planet set ablaze, and more countries sinking into the ocean. “Are you uncomfortable?” he asked, adding, “Good. Channel that uncomfortable feeling into ensuring that young people are engaged, consistently and meaningfully, beyond inviting us as panelists at events and meetings.”
NATHAN MÉTÉNIER, Environmental and Climate Youth Activist, France, asked: “When Brazil is in flames, when Sudan is underwater, when the largest iceberg has just broken off the Greenland shelf, what world are you leaving us?” The problem is not the lack of ideas and solutions, he said, but the international community’s love for models that have proven insufficient. Stressing the need to look beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and shift from models that are obsessed with infinite economic growth, he noted that inequality has reached intolerable dimensions. After this pandemic, the world needs to build back not only better, but differently. Nature is the single most advanced technology, he stressed, adding that leadership must come from local communities. “Trust your people, trust your youth,” he said.