By ZBC Reporter
THE United Nations (UN) on Wednesday called on the international community to make tangible improvements in the face of injustice and poor governance to create a better future for young people across the world.
Leaders across the world need to “move beyond platitudes” about young people, and deliver a better future for them all, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the 10th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, which kicked off on Wednesday and concludes the following day.
The UN chief underscored that “tangible improvements” are required in education, employment, environmental protection and digital connectivity – “through a just, inclusive, green and sustainable recovery.”
“The UN’s first-ever system-wide Youth Strategy, Youth2030, is our commitment to strengthen our work with and for young people,” he said, referring to the UN monitoring platform on how it is responding to the needs of youth in the COVID crisis and its work in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Yet more must be done (and) we need you to continue showing the way on critical issues, such as racial justice and gender equality. And we need you help us make peace with nature and forge a transition that takes us beyond fossil fuels into a world of renewable energy and net zero emissions,” he told the participants.
The UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake said that more than 11,000 young people from all over the world had converged virtually for the forum, making it the largest gathering of youth at the UN in the organization’s history.
She underscored it as an opportunity to celebrate their “resilience, drive, creativity, and leadership in building a more sustainable, just, and inclusive world for all, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
“We need to show the generations before us that those of us who are Millennials and Generation Z are walking the talk when it comes to inclusivity and equality,” said Wickramanayake, urging everyone to “hold decision-makers accountable for their actions” and to advocate for more youth representation where decisions are being made.
The youth envoy said that over 1.8 billion youth face issues “that no other generation has encountered,” including the climate crisis, conflicts and systems of inequality that “pose a threat to young people’s lives and futures.”
“We are at an intersection. Despite the hardships of the past year, we have an unprecedented opportunity to recover better together, reimagine the status quo and build a new normal based on values of justice, equality, intersectionality, and sustainability – with young people front and center,” she said.
The ECOSOC President Munir Akram saw the forum as a time to reflect on a decade filled with crises, as well as achievements.
To address the challenges, he outlined the need to defeat the COVID-19 by equitably vaccinating “everyone, everywhere,” and maintained that efforts must be made to recover from the pandemic-induced recession and “revive the prospects” of achieving the SDGs by 2030.
“The future belongs to you, the youth,” he said. “We need your energy, your ideals, your boldness, your imagination, your innovation, to build the structure of a peaceful, prosperous and equal world order.”
The two-day event features plenary sessions, interactive thematic and regionally-based discussions, and provides an opportunity for a rich exchange of views and ideas on innovative solutions to issues of relevance to young people on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and also on the SDGs under review in the ECOSOC and the High-level Political Forum in 2021.