Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the High‑level Event “Youth2030” to launch the United Nations youth strategy and “Generation Unlimited” partnership, in New York today:
It is a rare treat to see so many young people at the United Nations – unfortunately far too rare.
Our world today is very young; home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 – the largest young generation in history. Today’s young people face enormous challenges due to globalization, new technologies, displacement, shrinking civic space, changing labour markets and the impact of climate change.
More than one fifth of young people are not in employment, education or training. At least one in four is affected by violence or armed conflict in some way. Millions of girls become mothers while they are still children, affecting their health and entrenching a cycle of poverty. And too often, young people are excluded by development programmes, ignored in peace negotiations and denied a voice and a seat at the table.
At the same time, young people are a vast source of innovation, ideas and solutions. They are pushing strongly for the changes we need in the technology arena, in climate action, and in calling for inclusive and just societies. Empowering young people, supporting them, and making sure they can fulfil their potential are important ends in themselves. We want this for all people, everywhere.
But more than this, if we are to create a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world for all to fulfil the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need young people to lead. That is why today, I am delighted to launch Youth2030 — the UN’s strategy to engage with, but especially to empower, young people.
For many decades, the United Nations has sought to work for young people. But with Youth2030, I want the UN to become a leader in working with young people: in understanding their needs, in helping to put their ideas into action, in ensuring their views inform our processes. And as we change, we will work with our partners to do likewise.
This strategy identifies five key areas. First, we will open new routes to engage and involve young people and amplify their voices. Second, we will strengthen our focus on their access to education and health services. Third, we will place their economic empowerment to the fore of our development strategies, through a focus on training and jobs. Fourth, we will work harder to ensure young people’s rights are upheld and promote their civic and political engagement. And fifth, we will prioritize support for young people in conflict and in humanitarian crises, including their participation in peace processes.
Delivering on this strategy will require bold new approaches. My Youth Envoy – [who] is supposed to be a rebel - will play a key role in formulating and supporting them. This strategy should also spur new partnerships, and I am pleased to launch one here today.
Generation Unlimited is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to ensure all young people are in school, training or employment by 2030. It will focus on skills for learning, employment and empowerment, especially for girls. Young people will be central to every aspect of this initiative.
I thank Henrietta Fore for UNICEF’s [United Nations Children’s Fund] role in creating Generation Unlimited. Although I am no longer young, I am honoured to serve as co-Chair, together with His Excellency Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda.
Today is the start of a new era for young people at the United Nations. And everyone here can help us as we move forward. Member States: investing in and empowering young people in your countries; companies: working with us to provide skills and opportunities for young people; civil society: being bold, speaking out and keeping up the pressure.
And to all young men and women, I say: join us. Sign up. Volunteer. Vote. Be part of the solution. We need you as partners and leaders. We need you as we build a peaceful and more sustainable world.