• The World Conference on Youth, which was inaugurated earlier today.

World Conference on Youth opens in Sri Lanka, UN Envoy on Youth delivers remarks by the Secretary-General

Today, the World Conference on Youth was inaugurated in Sri Lanka. The conference, which is the first global youth conference in four years and the first ever organised in Asia, is being hosted by the Government under the auspices of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 

”The needs and demands of youth are one of my top priorities,” said UN Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi on behalf of the Secretary-General at the conference. “I encourage you to continue to raise your voices loud and clear so that they are heard not just at the conference, but in your communities around the world.”

UN Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi addressing the World Conference on Youth.

UN Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi addressing the World Conference on Youth.

 

In his own remarks, Alhendawi pointed out the daunting challenges young people are facing: That 40 percent of the unemployed globally are youth that nearly 70 million adolescents are out of school that 1.5 billion people – the majority of whom youth – are still living in conflicts or in fragile situations and that 41 percent of all new HIV infections occur in young people. The Secretary-General’s Envoy also stressed that if current trends continue in the next decade, over 142 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday.

 

“What I am delivering today is not a speech, but a plea not to fail this generation,” said Alhendawi. “Development as I define it is two words starting with the letter P: the people, and the planet. It’s about empowering people to reach their true potential, and about sustaining the planet so that future generations will have the opportunity to do the same.”

Alhendawi with the President of the General Assembly.

Alhendawi with the President of the General Assembly.

In the words delivered by His Excellency the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador John W. Ashe, “The Rio+20 Outcome Document The Future We Want emphasizes the need for young people to actively participate in decision-making processes. As the Member States of the United Nations begin formulating a successor arrangement to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we need to ensure that this new framework is sufficiently sensitive to the needs of the young.”

Some of the audience of the World Conference on Youth at the inauguration.

Some of the audience of the World Conference on Youth at the inauguration.

The conference, which gathers close to 1,000 young participants from around the world, is taking place in Colombo 6-10 May 2014.

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