On 12 August, the International Year of Youth was launched, with “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” as the main theme of the year. The launch of the International Year also coincided with International Youth Day, observed every 12 August.
The launch of the International Year was marked with speeches, musical performances, video screenings and poetry recitals at UN headquarters. In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted that the global economic crisis had had a disproportionate impact on young people, particularly the 87% of people aged 15 to 24 living in developing countries as they have lost jobs, struggled to find even low-wage employment and seen access to education curtailed. Throughout the year, the UN and its youth organization partners would be promoting exchange and understanding across generations, cultures and religions, making sure that young people are included in important policies and decision-making processes.
“In a world which different people and traditions are coming closer, more frequent contact than ever before, it is crucial that young people learn how to listen intently, empathize with others, acknowledge divergent opinions, and be able to resolve conflicts,” Mr. Ban said.
Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, discussed the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, while the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director, Thoraya Obaid, delivered a joint statement of the heads of UN entities demonstrating the support of the UN system for issues related to youth development.
The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) announced that it will make grants to 51 projects proposed by youth people from 31 countries. The grants will be drawn from the Programme’s Urban Youth Fund, which awards funding amounting to US$1 million each year.
During the International Year, the UN will focus on three overarching objectives – increasing commitment and investment in youth; raising youth participation and partnerships; and boosting inter-cultural understanding among youth.
“The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society,” UN Focal Point on Youth Nicola Shepherd said. “We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society.”
Several international events are being held throughout the year, including the Fifth World Youth Congress held from 31 July to 13 August in Istanbul, and the World Conference for Youth in Mexico City from 24-27 August. Both gatherings will focus on youth and sustainable development in the context of the MDGs.
Click here for the Secretary-General’s message for International Youth Day.
Click here for the Joint Statement by Heads of UN Entities for the Launch of the International Year of Youth.
Click here for the July 2010 edition of UN Youth Flash.
This article is available in Spanish.