Hundreds of young people from across the world have gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York to seek ways to strengthen youth leadership and accelerate the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The 12th International Youth Assembly, whose theme is “On the Road to Actions: Moving Beyond the MDGs, post 2015,” provides an opportunity for youth to engage in the achievement of the eight targets which expire on 2015, and discuss actions beyond the MDG deadline.
Agreed upon by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, the MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS and malaria reduction, and a global partnership for development.
“The clock is ticking on the MDGs and much remains to be done,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told participants in a video message. “United Nations Member States are also working hard on a blueprint for a post-2015 development agenda that will meet the needs of people and the planet.
“World leaders are responsible to ensure your sustainable future. But you have a major role to play. You must demand accountability, exercise influence as consumers and commentators, and provide momentum through your ideas and energy.”
Mr. Ban encouraged youth to work on challenges such as tackling unemployment, improving social justice and ensuring environmental sustainability.
“We must stand for what is right and act on our convictions,” he stated, adding that only through cooperation can individuals create the future they want.
The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, cited an urgent need to build bridges between diverse cultures, adding that youth are crucial to achieve this goal.
“It is important to recognize the importance of harnessing the passion and drive of this generation of young adults to propel us into a future of international peace, development and cooperation,” he told the gathering via teleconference.
“This is where your role as young advocates of change becomes more relevant than ever as youth is the most powerful agent for social change in the world.”
For the next three days, the Youth Assembly will host several discussion forums on youth leadership, employment and global development, youth partnerships and technology, among other topics. Participants will include the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, as well as leaders from youth organizations around the world.