New York

20 September 2017

Secretary-General's remarks on Demographic Roadmap for Africa: Moving from Commitment to Action [Bilingual, as delivered]

[Bilingual, as delivered; scroll further down for all-English version]

Je vous remercie, Monsieur le Président Condé, d’avoir organisé cette réunion de haut niveau, et je remercie les nombreux dirigeants qui ont répondu à l’appel et sont ici présents.
Au premier mois de mon mandat come Secrétaire-Général j’ai assisté au Sommet de l’Union Africaine à Addis Abeba.  J’ai voulu inaugurer une nouvelle ère de coopération ancrée dans une conviction profonde.
Je suis convaincu que la communauté internationale doit faire évoluer la narrative sur le continent africain.  Nous devons mettre en place un dispositif de coopération plus ambitieux, en tenant compte de l’énorme potentiel de l’Afrique.
Rien n’illustre mieux ce potentiel que la jeunesse Africaine. 
L’Afrique a la population la plus jeune au monde. 
À l’heure actuelle, un jeune sur cinq de par le monde vient d’Afrique. 
Le nombre de jeunes sur le continent continuera à croître pendant les prochaines décennies.
Je félicite l’Union africaine de sa Feuille de Route sur le Dividend Démographique. 
Vous montrez votre compromis à placer les besoins, les droits et les capacités des jeunes au cœur de vos efforts - et vous traduisez ces engagements en actions. 
Tout cela est d’une importance fondamentale pour que puissent être atteints les objectifs fixés par l’Agenda 2063 de l’Union africaine et par l’Agenda 2030 des Nations Unies pour le Développement Durable; des agendas qui sont vraiment un seul agenda de travail commun.
I see three keys to making the most of the demographic dividend. 
First, opportunity.  We need to make sure that young people have the tools to succeed in the 21st century.  That means education.  Skills.  Entrepreneurship.  The chance for a decent job. 
Second, we need to place a special focus on young women and girls.  So many futures are derailed when young women are pushed out of school, subjected to child marriage, or have poor access to education and health care. 
Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa tens of billions of dollars a year; the same in all regions of the world.  When we empower Africa’s young women and girls, everyone wins.
Third, we must recognize the power of young people as peace builders.  We must not see youth as victims or perpetrators of violence.  We need to fully engage young people in building peace, preventing conflict and forging solutions.
The United Nations looks forward to strengthening our work with the African Union on all these three issues – including through the efforts of my Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake.
Excellencies,
Let us spare no effort to make the most of the demographic dividend. 
For young people.  For Africa.  And for our world.
Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your kind invitation.
*****
I thank President Condé for convening this High-level event – and I thank so many distinguished leaders today for being here.
In my first month as Secretary-General, I attended the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.  I wanted to launch a new era of cooperation founded on a core conviction. 
I firmly believe the international community needs to change the narrative about the African continent.  We need to establish a higher platform of cooperation that recognizes Africa’s enormous potential.
Nothing better represents that potential than Africa’s young people. 
Africa has the youngest population in the world. 
Already, one of every five young people in the world is from Africa. 
Africa’s youth population will continue to grow for decades to come. 
I commend the African Union for your Demographic Dividend Roadmap. 
You are showing a commitment to put the needs, rights and capabilities of young people at the centre – and you are backing those commitments with action. 
This is critical to meeting the goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; agendas that are really the same common agenda.
I see three keys to making the most of the demographic dividend. 
First, opportunity.  We need to make sure that young people have the tools to succeed in the 21st century.  That means education.  Skills.  Entrepreneurship.  The chance for a decent job. 
Second, we need to place a special focus on young women and girls.  So many futures are derailed when young women are pushed out of school, subjected to child marriage, or have poor access to education and health care. 
Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa tens of billions of dollars a year; the same in all regions of the world.  When we empower Africa’s young women and girls, everyone wins.
Third, we must recognize the power of young people as peace builders.  We must not see youth as victims or perpetrators of violence.  We need to fully engage young people in building peace, preventing conflict and forging solutions.
The United Nations looks forward to strengthening our work with the African Union on all these issues – including through the efforts of my Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake.
Let us spare no effort to make the most of the demographic dividend. 
For young people.   For Africa.  And for our world.
Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your kind invitation.