In Celebration of Youth
International Youth Day
The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.” It focuses on the leading role of young people in achieving these challenging goals.
Youth have the largest stake in the decisions being made today and these decisions are likely to impact every aspect of their future. We need to actively engage because, as Carmen Martinez once said, “The more we increase the active participation and partnership with young people, the better we serve them…And the more comprehensively we work with them as service partners, the more we increase our public value to the entire community.”
Recently, UNESCO’s Institute for Statiscs (UIS) released new data that revealed that approximately 263 million children and youth are currently out of school. For the first time ever, UIS included estimates of upper secondary school children who are out of school and the number is staggering – 142 million. That means that children between the ages of 15 and 17 are four times more likely than 6 to 11 year olds to be out of school.
Why? They highlight two possible reasons, 1) upper secondary is not compulsory like primary and lower secondary and 2) in many places children reach the legal working age and their poverty leaves them little choice but to go to work.
In his message, UN Secretary General states, “When we invest in youth, they can contribute to new markets, decent jobs, fair trade, sustainable housing, sustainable transport and tourism, and more opportunities that benefit the planet and people.” This all begins with education. If these 263 million children currently out of school were given the chance to go to back to the classroom, to learn how to read, write and think, imagine the difference they could make in their homes, communities, countries and world.
This can happen.
Today, the UN Secretary General released this inspiring and hopeful message:
“The world’s young people – who make up the largest generation of youth in history – can lead a global drive to break the patterns of the past and set the world on course to a more sustainable future. Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail today: between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger and shameful food waste, rich natural resources and polluting industries. Youth can deliver solutions on these issues, which lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In this first year of that 15-year plan for a healthier, safer and more just future, we count on the active engagement of the world’s young people to transform the production and consumption of goods and services so they meet the basic needs and aspirations of the world’s poorest people without overburdening already strained ecosystems.
Young people are traditionally at the cutting edge, and today’s youth have more information than any previous generation. Their dynamism, creativity and idealism can combine to shape attitudes toward demand and help create more sustainable industries.
Youth are already influencing how the world produces, distributes and consumes while driving green entrepreneurship by designing sustainable products and services. As conscious consumers, young people are at the forefront of a shift toward more fair, equitable and sustainable buying patterns. Youth are strong and effective advocates of recycling, reusing and limiting waste, and they are leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy.
When we invest in youth, they can contribute to new markets, decent jobs, fair trade, sustainable housing, sustainable transport and tourism, and more opportunities that benefit the planet and people.
I am proud that the United Nations is actively engaged in supporting young leaders who can carry out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns. I encourage all young people to become involved in advancing the SDGs and demanding action by their Governments. My Youth Envoy is eager to connect you to our campaigns, which are being carried out across the entire United Nations system.
On International Youth Day, I urge others to join this global push for progress. Let us empower young people with the resources, backing and space they need to create lasting change in our world.”