Remarks by Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China
H.E. Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
H.E. Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General,
H.E. Mr. Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger,
H.E. Ms. Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO,
H.E. Mr. He Junke, Chairman of Inter-Ministries Meeting for Implementation of the Medium and Long-term Youth Development Plan, First Secretary of the Secretariat of Central Committee of Communist Youth League of China,
H.E. Mr. Huai Jinpeng, Minister for Education, China,
H.E. Mr. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum,
H.E. Ms. Wang Hongyan, President of All-China Youth Federation,
Young talents from around the world,
I want to thank All-China Youth Federation for the invitation to address the 2022 World Youth Development Forum. I am pleased to join this forum, announced at the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development in June, which aims to bring together young critical thinkers, change-makers, innovators, and communicators around the world to advance youth development. I welcome President Xi Jinping’s call for this forum as, and I quote, “a bid to pool as much strength as possible for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
The world today is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24, the largest generation of young people in history. Nearly 90 per cent of this youth population lives in developing countries, especially in the least developed countries. This number is expected to grow.
Youth are the torchbearers of the 2030 Agenda. It is clear that sustainable development and peace cannot be achieved unless we engage young people and create the conditions for them to reach and unlock their full potential.
Interconnected like never before, young people want to – and already – contribute to the richness of their societies and the future of their nations. They stand up to lead the struggle for climate action, mobilizing for racial and social justice while putting forward innovative solutions that advance progress and inspire change.
While considerable progress has been made in advancing youth development and engagement, young people now face unprecedented crises and threats in the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, rising conflicts, structural inequalities, digital divides, rising poverty and hunger, the erosion of civic spaces and declining trust in our institutions.
Recent data showed that in 2020, more than one in five young people globally aged 15-24 are neither in employment, education or training. Alarmingly, two out of every three in this group are young women.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to see impacts on youth employment, school attendance, and the economic prospects of an entire generation. Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time, disrupting learning and upending lives, especially those of the most vulnerable and marginalized.
This is not acceptable.
Youth must be at the centre of our efforts to address these challenges and build more sustainable, just and peaceful societies.
Today’s forum provides us with a timely opportunity to refocus public attention on youth development, prioritize youth development in the overall development agenda, and advocate for youth action to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Young people are the leaders of tomorrow. They hold great power in addressing issues confronting the modern world, including those of peace and security, human rights, and development, the Three Pillars of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General, António Guterres, believes in the power of young people. Whether in advancing gender equality, education and skills development, or entrepreneurship and digital innovation, he highlights how youth exhibit drive, creativity, and commitment. He has called for young people to have a seat at the table as “designers of their own future.”
I too firmly believe that young people around the world can join hands to realize a more inclusive, fairer, and more sustainable world for all. As the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, I would like to encourage the youth of China to answer the call, take part, and find practical solutions to solve problems and promote sustainable development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To achieve the SDGs, the world needs to leverage the potential of all generations. Solidarity across generations is vital for sustainable development. Ahead of the upcoming International Youth Day, we must do everything possible to foster and renew intergenerational partnerships that enable the world’s young people to enjoy a more equal, open-minded society.
With less than eight years left to achieve the SDGs in the Decade of Action, the UN in China stands ready to promote youth development in China through the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, to ensure no youth is left behind.
We, the UN Country Team in China, will continue our efforts to address the challenges and risks faced by the young people at home and abroad, especially those in vulnerable groups, to amplify their voice, promote their participation, and address their needs. They are our future.