New York: International Youth Day celebrates “the power of partnerships across generations,” the UN chief said in his message for the day.
Commemorated annually on 12 August, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that this year’s theme – “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” – reminds us of “a basic truth” that “we need people of all ages, young and old alike, to join forces to build a better world for all”.
Too often, ageism, bias and discrimination prevent this essential collaboration, the top UN official observed.
“When young people are shut out of the decisions being made about their lives, or when older people are denied a chance to be heard, we all lose,” he spelled out.
Mr. Guterres upheld that as the world faces a series of challenges threatening our collective future, “solidarity and collaboration are more essential than ever”.
From COVID-19 to climate change and conflicts to poverty, inequality and discrimination, “we need all hands on deck” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build the better, more peaceful future that everyone seeks.
We need to support young people with massive investments in education and skills-building — “including through next month’s Transforming Education Summit,” said the Secretary-General.
“We also need to support gender equality and expanded opportunities for young people to participate in civic and political life”.
The UN chief maintained that it is not enough to just listen to young people, “we need to integrate them into decision-making mechanisms at the local, national and international levels”.
This is at the heart of the UN’s proposal to establish a new Youth Office at the Organization.
At the same time, he pointed to the importance of ensuring that older generations have access to social protection and opportunities to give back to their communities as well as the ability to share the decades of accumulated experience that they have lived.
“On this important day, let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers, and work as one to achieve a more equitable, just and inclusive world for all people,” concluded the Secretary-General.
‘Youthful drive’ needed
Meanwhile, in his lecture to the students of Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid reflected on the importance of intergenerational collaboration, conceding that “it is often young people who hold us accountable when we fall short on any issue, whether it be conservation, peace, or human rights”.
As we face a full-fledged planetary crisis with countries locking themselves into “unreasonable positions” during negotiations, he reminded, “it is the young that are stepping up through their activism”.
“It is young people that kept the 1.5-degree goal alive”, he said. “It is young people who refuse our excuses when we, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, delay and dither on taking action to curb emissions and protect the environment”.
Mr. Shahid confirmed that the world needs “that youthful drive and energy” today.