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Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail, Says UN Secretary-General on International Youth Day

August 16, 2016 By Memunatu Bangura

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has said in his message to young people on International Youth Day 2016 that young people were directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger andshameful 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,” he said.

Mr. Ban maintained that youth were strong and effective advocates of recycling, re-using and limiting waste, leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy, adding that when people invest in youth they contribute to new markets, decent jobs, fair trade, sustainable housing, sustainable transport and tourism, and more opportunities that could benefit the planet and people.

He said the world’s young people that make-up the largest generation of youth in history could lead a global drive to break the patterns of the past and set the world on course to a more sustainable future.

He maintained that the United Nations was actively engaged in supporting young leaders that would 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,” he said.

According to him, youth were already influencing how the world produces, distributes and consumes, while driving green entrepreneurship by designing sustainable products and services and as conscious consumers, young people were at the forefront of a shift toward more fair, equitable and sustainable buying patterns.

“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,” Mr. Ban said.

He said young people were traditionally at the cutting edge, and today’s youth
have more information than any previous generation as their dynamism, creativity and idealism could combine to shape attitudes toward demand and help create more sustainable industries.

The UN Secretary General urged others to join the global push for progress and to empower young people with the resources, backing and space they need to create lasting change in the world.

United Nations’ International Youth Day is celebrated on 12 August each year to recognise efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming 12 August as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organisations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

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