Photo Courtesy of UNifeed
The United Nations celebrated International Youth Day this weekend by focusing on the power of youth partnerships to build a better world. Observed now for thirteen years, International Youth Day is a chance for the international community to reiterate its commitment to the unique challenges that young people face, and to get their input on solving global crises.
“Today’s generation of youth — the largest the world has ever known, and the vast majority of whom live in developing countries — has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Yet too many young people, including those who are highly educated, suffer from low-wage, dead-end work and record levels of unemployment.”
In the lead up to International Youth Day, UN DESA hosted a series of Google+ Hangouts, where young people could go online to discuss the issues that matter to them in real time with UN officials, including Mr. Ban. These hangouts addressed topics that matter deeply to young people in a troubled global economy, like employment, education, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship, and civil rights.
Always pertinent to the young, these topics take on special significance for this generation of young people, which despite unprecedented access to education and seemingly limitless capacity to create with new technologies, finds itself growing up into a world where jobs and opportunities are scarce.
Mr. Ban acknowledged this difficult situation, and called for all national and international organizations to overcome the daunting challenges of unemployment and mobilize the talents of young people everywhere.’
“The global economic crisis has hit youth the hardest, and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities. A large number have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes in their countries,” he noted. “Without urgent measures, we risk creating a ‘lost generation’ of squandered talent and dreams.”
Despite fears of a “lost generation,” International Youth Day was celebrated in good spirits by many around the world on Sunday, who are able to see past today’s roadblocks, and look at a generation of young people equipped with the tools and the know how to apply innovative approaches to tackling the problems of the future. Now, all the need is the chance to do it.