On Monday 26 October 2015, the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum opened at the Organization’s Paris Headquarters, with the participation of hundreds of young women and men coming from all regions of the world.
Before the Opening Session itself, the Director-General of UNESCO, in the presence of H.E. Mr Hao Ping, President of the 37th General Conference of UNESCO, Mr Ahmad Alhendawi, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, and H.E. Ms Zhang Xiuqin, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of China to UNESCO and awarded the representatives of the two major sponsors of the event – Perfect World (China) and the MiSK Foundation (Saudi Arabia) – with the UNESCO’s 70th anniversary medal and a certificate in recognition of their invaluable support to this landmark event.

The two masters of ceremony, Ms Gioel Gioachino (Italy) and Mr Lawrence Ndambuki Muli (Kenya) opened the Youth Forum calling for “an alive collective imagination” and invited the whole audience to “find their own voices”.

In his address, H.E. Mr Hao Ping, President of the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, recalled the historic visit at UNESCO in March 2014 and read a special message sent by H.E. Mr Xi Jinping, on behalf of the Government and people of China, to the young participants of the Forum, underlining the crucial importance of the implementation of the recently adopted Agenda 2030 and of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the core responsibility of all, including youth, in this regard.

“An ambitious and responsible youth is the hope of humanity and young people are the leaders and creators of tomorrow”, stated President Xi in his message to the youth delegates.

Mr Hao Ping further emphasized the need for the international community to provide youth with proper opportunity to realize their ambitions and dreams. As we engage now in the implementation of the Agenda 2030, it is imperative, insisted President Hao Ping, that “we all renew our commitment to address global challenges, such as eradication of poverty, illiteracy, gender inequalities, and many others”.

“Young people”, added H.E. Hao Ping, “should spend their entire life fulfilling their commitments”.

“Life is short, but your dreams are huge!”, concluded the President of the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, made a vibrant appeal to the youth delegates for them to take their core responsibilities as members of a generation that “can end poverty… that can stop climate change”.

She compared the current gathering of enthusiasm and determination of the young women and men attending the Youth Forum with the bold vision of the founders of UNESCO, 70 years ago. In the face of numerous challenges for all societies, from violent extremism to poverty, from the consequences of climate change to unemployment, from the deliberate attacks against cultural heritage and diversity to repeated economic crisis, discouragement must not win because these extremely complex issues “are not the future”, stated the Director-General. “You are the future”, she insisted, inviting youth delegates to commit themselves fully in the work of the “Future Laboratories”, a crucial innovation of this edition of the Youth Forum that places the emphasis on foresight, and to act right now without waiting.

“We must be audacious now”, stated the Director-General, in particular in shaping “an open global citizenship, aware of the global challenges”.

“We are at a pivotal moment”, underlined Irina Bokova, between the recent adoption of the Agenda 2030, on the eve of the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, and one month before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21).

“This is a timely moment to make the voice of youth heard and integrate it fully in the elaboration of programmes for the future”, said the Director-General.

Mr Ahmad Alhendawi, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, commended Director-General Irina Bokova for demonstrating a strong and continued commitment towards the youth of the world. He further insisted on the innovation of this year’s edition, with a large representation of organizations coming from the civil society.

“We are all on board in a journey of implementation of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, said Mr Alhendawi, and here, he added, “UNESCO has a key role to play, given that education, science and culture have never been so important than today”.

It is imperative to work hard, stated the UNSG Special Envoy on Youth, to ensure “what we see as goals in the Agenda 2030 becomes a reality” in terms of girls’ and women’s empowerment, fight against the consequences of climate change. If we want “to achieve the SDGs for a better and more peaceful world, we need a forward-looking approach”, said again Ahmad Alhendawi, underling the foresight strong component of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum.

Mr Alhendawi concluded by recalling the crucial importance of education, culture and science for the youth and for the entire global community: “through education, young people can become global citizens. Through culture, young people can protect their heritage, history, collective memory, and safeguard cultural diversity. Through science, young people can push forward innovation and technology for the benefits of all”.

On stage, five inspirational young leaders then took the floor to present their testimonials: Mr Moctar Dembele, from Burkina Faso, Ms Manar AlSagob, from Saudi Arabia, Ms Tanzila Khan, from Pakistan, Ms Cecilia Garcia, from Mexico, and Ms Alaa Toutounji (Syria).

A choir of 46 children from France concluded this Opening Session of the Forum, performing a Chinese song “Jasmine flower/Mo Li Hua”, and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Over 500 young people are due to meet at UNESCO until 28 October 2015 to ensure that youth remains top of the agenda ahead of COP21, the UN Climate Change Conference, in the context of the implementation of the new global Sustainable Development Goals and the recently adopted Agenda 2030.

Source here: http://goo.gl/wyd2SZ