Young people are at the heart of many of today’s challenges, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in Buenos Aires, urging a gathering of youth and civil society delegates to claim the new UN Sustainable Development Agenda as their own and to hold their leaders accountable for its implementation.
“Get involved. Raise your voices. Make your mark,” Mr. Ban said as he wrapped up his official visit to Argentina, urging participants at a gathering hosted by the Mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, to see themselves as the owners rather than mere recipients of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“[The SDGs are] your plan for social justice, environmental protection and economic progress. There are 169 targets in the SDGs – and 65 of them reference young people,” he added in his remarks.
He recalled that at the recently concluded 2016 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), many speakers underlined that the SDGs are meant for the people and it is thus very important that individuals, especially youth and women, are empowered.
Noting that gender equality is essential to sustainable development, he emphasized: “We can never have progress if we hold back half the world. When we unleash the power of women, everyone will benefit.”
The Secretary-General highlighted that the power of the human spirit as displayed by the Refugee Team at the Rio Olympic Games, and international solidarity that was shown by the UN to Korean people, including himself, during the Korean War, is needed to transform the world.
He emphasized that through solidarity and unity, “[We can] ensure that all people live with the dignity they deserve.”
Mr. Ban further said that there is a common realization among countries that that development, peace, justice and human rights cannot be looked at separately and that young people are at the heart of these challenges.
He added that that the UN Security Council adopted a landmark resolution on youth, last December, in which it acknowledged that if young people are good enough to fight in wars, they deserve a chance to make peace.
“You are the young peacebuilders who can advance progress,” said the Secretary-General.
He called on them to “bring that resilient, positive spirit to the global arena. Be a global citizen. Look beyond the borders of this country and this continent. Join the United Nations in building a better world for all.”