10 February 2017 – In his second term in office, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, subsequently appointing Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan as his first-ever Envoy on Youth – the youngest senior official in the history of the Organization.
“I think with my appointment, the United Nations sent an important message that it’s time to work with young people, and not just for young people,” says Mr. Alhendawi, whose tenure as UN Envoy on Youth ends on 13 February 2017.
Mr. Alhendawi, who assumed his position on 17 January 2013, echoes the vision of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who, in establishing the Youth Envoy’s office, had identified working with and for young people as one of his top priorities.
The Envoy on Youth – who also acts as the adviser to and the representative of the Secretary-General on youth-related matters – was given the mandate to harmonize the UN system efforts on youth development, enhance the UN response to youth needs, advocate for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to bring the work of the United Nations with and for youth closer to them.
In an interview with UN News – recorded days before the end of his tenure as UN Envoy on Youth – Mr. Alhendawi says, “We cannot really achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or bring peace and prosperity to our world without engaging young people.”
We believe young people are an opportunity, and they are an asset for development, peace and prosperity to their countries
“Whether we are looking at development issues, peace and security, tackling Climate Change, on all these fronts we need to engage young people because they are capable, ready and very much able to do the heavy-lifting in implementing the SDGs,” adds the UN Envoy on Youth.
The following is the full transcript of the interview:
UN News: You’ve been Youth Envoy since 2013. You were the first-ever UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. Looking back at the last four years, how do you evaluate your work with the largest generation of youth?
Ahmad Alhendawi: I think, with my appointment, the United Nations sent an important message that it’s time to work with young people, and not just for young people. When I was appointed as Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth I was only 27 years old. And at that time I was probably the youngest in the history of the UN to serve in a senior position at that age, and many people were skeptical about whether that was a good or bad move – some may have thought I was too young to lead or to take care of this important portfolio. But I think what we found out, is that the power of young people – and empowering them in leadership positions – will always pay off. And the UN sends that message to all member states around the world, that it’s time to work with young people, by bringing young people in, and allowing them to craft decisions, and to also support their implementation. Looking back, I’m very proud of all the accomplishments we have made, particularly in engaging in drafting the SDGs and convening this amazing