Prerecorded Statement by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

7 April 2021

It is a pleasure to address you today, at the opening of the 10th ECOSOC Youth Forum, which is taking place in the ‘new normal’ that we have adapted to over the past year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, everywhere. One group most hurt by the pandemic is undoubtedly, you, our youth. Some of you may have lost loved ones who have succumbed to the effects of COVID-19, or struggled with mental health issues. Perhaps you have experienced a disruption in your education, or you may be finding it difficult to find work.

I know that for many of you, a year may feel like a lifetime. But, take it from me, it really is not! Do not become disillusioned. This pandemic will pass.

Until then, please, avail of all opportunities that come your way; reach out and connect with your peers; and explore all avenues of learning. Join us in the General Assembly Hall, through UNWebTV! Tune into our upcoming events and learn about our efforts to protect oceans, advance digital cooperation, and end corruption. Your insights are essential to the work of the United Nations. Whether you are from a Small Island Developing Country, a Least Developed Country, a Landlocked Developing Country, or a developed country – we need to hear from you.

Youth is not a homogenous group, so we need all of you to speak up, to share your lived experiences, to amplify the voices of your peers who have been silenced, to make space for those who have been marginalised. Over the next two days we are passing the mic to you. But it is your responsibility to pass it along, to the most vulnerable voices that have not yet reached the United Nations including young refugees.

Volkan Bozkir

President of the UN General Assembly

You drew our attention to the climate crisis, and called for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. At the UN General Assembly Special Session on the COVID-19 Response, Youth Representative Vladislav Kaim declared that, ‘joblessness among youth is a pandemic that will continue until after the actual pandemic is done.’ He called for a prioritisation of the needs of the next generation of taxpayers, policymakers, and activists. This is critical to securing a healthy, safe future that is more resilient to global threats.

Youth is not a homogenous group, so we need all of you to speak up, to share your lived experiences, to amplify the voices of your peers who have been silenced, to make space for those who have been marginalised. Over the next two days we are passing the mic to you. But it is your responsibility to pass it along, to the most vulnerable voices that have not yet reached the United Nations including young refugees.

This will be essential as we seek to recover better and promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and will require a whole-of-society, inter-generational approach. We will need you to step up and help us. I call on all of you here today, to take action to accelerate energy transformation, to close the energy and digital divide that threaten to leave people behind.

I am sure that the next two days will give rise to fruitful discussions and ideas as to how we can ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, to build peace, and uphold the human rights of the people we serve. We are looking to you, as the drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to guide us.

Never doubt your power.

You are the problem-solvers who will find the solutions to the existential challenges humanity will face in the future.

You are the defenders of the equal, inalienable, and fundamental human rights for all.

You are the keepers of peace, the guardians of the Charter of the United Nations.

Together, you are 1.8 billion strong. You will forge our pathway to 2030 and beyond. You have the power to create a better world for all. We are with you every step of the way.