The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, is currently in Paris where he is taking part in the 8th UNESCO Youth Forum. Alhendawi spoke at the opening ceremony of the forum which brings together over 500 young people from all over the world to discuss this year’s theme “Youth and Social Inclusion: Civic Engagement, Dialogue and Skills Development.”

In his opening remarks, the Envoy stressed the importance of partnering with young people in development, saying “It is not about calling others to action, but rather about taking the lead today, and transforming ideas into actions.” On the margins of the Youth Forum, the Envoy held a meeting with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Director-General Irina Bokova where they discussed UNESCO’s work on youth development, as well as cooperation around the upcoming global youth policy symposium.

Yesterday, Alhendawi addressed volunteers at the 2013 annual International Volunteering Cooperation Organizations’ (IVCO) conference in Paris, where he delivered remarks about “The role of youth and youth volunteering in the post-2015 global development agenda.”

“Volunteerism is a two-way street: allowing young people to gain skills and capacities, while leveraging their engagement and creativity to shape their own livelihoods and contribute to their communities as agents of change,” said the Envoy on Youth.

In response to the Secretary-General’s five-year agenda which includes as one of its top priorities working with and for young people, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme has developed a youth strategy to help engage young people in global peace and sustainable human development work. The UNV Programme aims to improve the capacity of relevant stakeholders, and increase opportunities for young people to contribute to the core values of the United Nations.

“Volunteerism enhances the capacity of people to exercise choices to set and achieve their own development objectives, which can result in real improvements that benefit others as well as themselves,” concluded Alhendawi.