Delivered by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin,
Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at this important Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security. I thank His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II of Jordan, as well as the Government and people of Jordan for generously hosting and co-organizing this event.
You are part of the largest generation of youth in history, and you meet at a once-in-a-generation moment, as world leaders prepare to adopt next month a new global vision for sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to usher in a life of dignity for all people by the year 2030, when many of you will come of age. That is why I call today’s youth the “SDG generation.”
Sustainable development, peace and security are inextricably linked. Young people are essential to the establishment of lasting security. While media reports may portray youth, especially young men, as a threat, this is a gross distortion. Many combatants may be young but the vast majority of youth are not violent. They are often among conflict’s first victims – and they can lead as champions of peace.
There are countless youth organizations that want to wage peace, not war. Yet in conflict-torn countries, these groups lack the influence, capacity and funds they need to operate effectively. They share our ideals – and they deserve our unstinting assistance.
With the right support, young people can build peace, foster reconciliation and achieve democratic governance. I invite the representatives of governments, donor organizations and civil society partners to support these valuable youth initiatives. Fine words are worthy, but actions and support drive progress.
The United Nations is working hard to listen and respond to today’s youth.
We have already launched the Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding. I am also developing a comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism that will seek to engage and empower youth.
We all yearn for a more just and peaceful world – and with the help of young people, such as those who have joined the rows of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders like many of you have, we can create it.
I call on leaders and peoples everywhere to join me in listening to youth, empowering them, and unleashing their potential for global peace and progress.