Young Parliamentarians as Drivers of Inclusion: Fourth IPU Global Conference on Young Parliamentarians

17 November 2017 , Ottawa, Canada

Good afternoon, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues.



I want to thank the Inter-Parliamentary Union for inviting me to address you. Unfortunately, I am not able to do it in person, due to developments at the United Nations General Assembly.

I also want to thank Canada. Its role as host of the Global Conference on Young Parliamentarians is another testimony to its commitment to the empowerment of youth.

I want to start by stressing that young people can – and do – drive inclusion.

We can look at this in three main ways.

First, political. Young people have fought to widen the political policy space. They have helped to dismantle barriers related to gender, race, disabilities or beliefs. This has happened throughout history. But, today it is more relevant than ever– for two reasons. One, because there are more young people in the world. And two, because of the technology they have access to.

They can learn, inform and call for action with a few clicks of a button.

Also throughout history, young people have been shut out of the halls and rooms in which decisions are made. The difference, now, is that their voices from outside are louder than ever.

My second point on youth and inclusion relates to the economy. Too many young people are unemployed – 73 million, in fact.

This affects not only young people themselves, but also the societies they live in. In May 2018, I will be hosting an innovative youth event. It will focus on education and employment, as well as prevention of radicalisation. I will be organising online outreach ahead of the event, so I urge all of you to stay tuned.

I will use my third point to stress that youth inclusion is crucial when it comes to migration. Young migrants and refugees can be assets to their new communities. They can be sources of skills, labour, and new ideas. But this can only happen if they are integrated and included. In 2018, all UN Member States will come together to negotiate the world’s first global framework on migration. We need a compact that will affect the lives of real people – including young migrants.

We can’t do this without your help. We need your perspectives, as young parliamentarians. And we need you to highlight the perspectives of other young people you have met through your work.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

As I said, young people have, historically, been shut out of the rooms and halls where decisions are made. But this has just led them to magnify their voices from the outside. It is time for those voices to be listened to. And it is time for them to be heard from inside.

All of you here can lead the charge. You can raise your own voices, as young parliamentarians. And you can help to bring more young voices into the rooms and halls of power.

I wish you luck in your work ahead, and in your discussions over the next two days.

I thank you.