New York

29 May 2015

Secretary-General’s remarks at General Assembly event for the 20th Anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth [as delivered]

It gives me great pleasure to be with you today to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth.

I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this important event.

I am delighted to see so many young people gathered under the same roof with UN Member State officials responsible for youth issues.

This is an excellent indicator of our collective commitment to youth and youth development.

This anniversary commemoration comes at a critical time.

This is not just another year.

2015 represents an opportunity for transformation.  It is meant to be a year of global action, the year we progress towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

As we approach the adoption of a new set of sustainable development goals, the global community has an unparalleled opportunity to change the course of history.

As the largest generation of youth the world has ever known, you are in the driving seat of this change.

You are the first generation that can end poverty – and the last generation that can act to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Your voice, your actions, are essential.

Young people around the world have been disproportionately affected by economic crises and recession. 

Globally, over 73 million youth are unemployed, and young people are three times more likely than adults to be jobless.

Worldwide, girls and young women continue to face violence and discrimination in all walks of life.

Over 14 million young people throughout the world have been displaced by conflict and natural disasters.

Each day roughly 3,000 young people get newly infected with HIV.

It is clear that much remains to be done to ensure that youth are provided the opportunities and the means necessary to flourish.

The World Programme of Action for Youth aims to enhance the situation of youth everywhere.

It provides an important blueprint for action at the national and international levels, and has clear synergies with the new sustainable development agenda.

We cannot talk about sustainable development without the inclusion and active involvement of youth.

Young people must be at the centre of national development plans and they need to be actively engaged in the formulation of policies and programmes.

Youth policies must be inclusive, participatory, gender-responsive, comprehensive, knowledge-based, informed by evidence, fully resourced and accountable.

I strongly encourage all governments to uphold these principles while formulating their national youth policies and to use the World Programme of Action for Youth as a guiding framework. 

We must continue efforts at all levels to enhance its implementation beyond 2015, and to take stock of the lessons learned over the past 20 years.

Improving regular and comprehensive reporting on achievements and lessons learned will enable us to create a useful knowledge base for countries who want to benefit from global practice in this area.

When we work together, we have the opportunity to create a sustainable future for all, based on dignity and respect for all people.

I call on governments to enhance their efforts to implement the World Programme of Action for Youth under the new post 2015 development agenda, and to include young people as part of their delegations to the Summit in September.

We must all work together for a bold and ambitious agenda where youth development is centre. 

At the same time, I call on young people across the world to lead and act with courage.

I call on you to work together for people and planet so that we can achieve sustainable development for all.

And I ask you to work with my Special Envoy for Youth, Ahmed Alhendawi, who has been liaising all the networks, youth networks around the world. I am told that we have hundreds, millions of networks now, are reaching out our messages to all of you. And we count on your strong engagement and active participation with the United Nations. 

You are our future.

Our joint work and efforts will be crucial in ensuring the success of the next generation of sustainable development goals and a life of dignity for all.

And I count on your active leadership and commitment. Thank you.