Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the commemoration of International Youth Day, in New York today:
Happy International Youth Day. We are meeting together at a very promising time. Governments have just agreed on a bold new sustainable development vision to transform our world by 2030. Today’s young people can help realize the sustainable development goals.
Youth face many challenges, including poverty, conflicts and unemployment. But, young people are not simply accepting this as their fate. They are rising up to challenge power structures, speaking out for justice and human rights, and advocating global action for people and the planet.
As we mark this Day on the theme of civic engagement, I stand with these young activists. The sustainable development goals are for you — and they will only be achieved with you.
The new agenda aims to end poverty. It takes a comprehensive approach, integrating the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.
This agenda is for all countries — no matter what their income. The goals aim to tackle systematic problems that young people understand so well — like inequality, wasteful consumerism and the lack of decent jobs.
More and more Governments, businesses and individuals understand that we cannot burn our way to prosperity without damaging the planet. This agenda reflects that awareness.
Member States know it will take more than “business as usual” to succeed. We are forging a revitalized global partnership to mobilize everyone for our common future.
Young people have participated actively in drafting the new development agenda: millions of youth have told the United Nations about the world they want. Others contributed to drafting the Global Youth Call. And the major group for children and youth has spared no efforts in mobilizing youth-led organizations all over the world to make sure youth are at the forefront of the new agenda.
I am urging Member States to include youth in the delegations for the upcoming summit to adopt the agenda. When it comes to carrying out this agenda, I count on the world’s youth to be torchbearers of sustainable development.
I am pleased that the Office of my Youth Envoy is launching a new youth “gateway” to help engage young people in the implementation of the new agenda.
This is the largest generation of young people in history — and with this agenda, they can shape history. A child who is 10 will come of age with the sustainable development goals.
I call today’s youth the “SDG generation”. We need to support young people’s health, well-being and human rights. I am especially concerned about young women. They deserve reproductive health services.
For years, I have been leading a global push to improve the health of the most vulnerable through our “Every woman, every child” campaign. We have made progress, but we have to keep pressing for better results for all people.
Next month, I will launch an updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. Young people are at the heart of this effort.
Wherever I go around the world, I do my best to meet with young people — in refugee camps, university halls and small groups. Just two days ago, I made a video call to students in Palestine at a school run by the UN Relief and Works Agency [for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], UNRWA. I expressed solidarity with the students and called for resources to support them.
The children were so inspiring. One young girl appealed for funding so students like her can become doctors and engineers and “make our own future”. These children, like all children, deserve to realize their potential.
I have asked my Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, to mobilize more support to help young people everywhere, particularly youth affected by conflicts. He is spending the Youth Day this year in the Philippines engaging young people displaced by conflict and promoting civic engagement. These young people have unprecedented networks. They can mobilize the world. They can lead us to a better future.
On International Youth Day, I call on the world’s young people to join forces with the United Nations. Use your strength to advance our goals for a better future. Together, we can create a life of dignity for all. Thank you.