Investing in adolescents and youth to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity to realize the demographic dividend and achieve the 2030 Agenda

As delivered

Statement by Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, at High Level Luncheon Event on  Investing in adolescents and youth to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity to realize the demographic dividend and achieve the 2030 Agenda

17 July 2017

 

DFCjatsWAAAMWdIAmbassador Shava, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Honourable Ministers,
Ms. Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, 

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,  

 

Welcome everyone to this special event on World Youth Skills Day.

I would like to particularly welcome Jayathma Wickramanayaka, the Secretary-General’s new Envoy on Youth. It is a pleasure to see you here in one of your early official engagements at the UN.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

It was in conversation with the late Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, that the idea first took hold for today’s event. What  could be more important than investing in young people in order to realize the demographic dividend and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

Dr. Babatunde fervently believed that the world’s 1.8 billion young people are humanity’s greatest hope. I recall him saying, “How we meet the needs and aspirations of young people will define the world’s future”.

In our rapidly-changing world, there is this enormous opportunity. I refer to the opportunity and the importance of harnessing the energy, ingenuity and potential of young people to drive growth and achieve sustainable development.

Indeed, for countries with high proportions of young people, by tapping into the massive transformative capabilities of youth, entire nations stand to ramp up their prospects for prosperity and sustainability.

Thus we must invest more of our resources into the training of young people, so that they are able to serve as future innovators, entrepreneurs, and agents for change.

Such investments will build the knowledge and skills of young people so that they are able to participate and continuously adapt to the jobs of the future. Change is inevitable and the young must be properly prepared.

We shall not underestimate the scaling up of our investments. We have to get to the 500 million youth currently struggling to survive on less than $2 per day.

And we need to get to the girls and young women who do not currently have access to health, education or decent work, and are instead vulnerable to violence, harmful practices, forced marriage, and early childbirth.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, taken together with the Paris Climate Agreement, is the social contract that will lead us all to a sustainable and secure relationship for people and planet.

In terms of the most effective long-term investments Governments can make to allow their countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda and realize a future that is safe, secure and prosperous for all citizens, there are few things they can do as meaningful as investing in the youth of today.

I look forward to a lively and enlightening discussion along these lines today, and I thank you for your attention.

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