The potential of young people to use technology to make exceptional contributions to society and history is in the spotlight today at a United Nations forum, where officials are calling on future leaders to use their expertise and compassion to address the challenges facing the world.
In his opening statement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged participants to be “global citizens” and to help the Organizations rise to the challenges such as insecurity, climate change and unemployment by finding their own mission in life.
“Be part of creating a new vision. It is not only about telling us what kind of world you want. It is about partnering with us to realize a better future,” he told participants at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in New York.
The forum’s theme focuses on leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture to improve societies. Participants are ‘tomorrow’s innovators’, including youth representatives from Member States, students and young entrepreneurs with science and technology backgrounds and youth-led non-governmental organizations.
Mr. Ban noted that working with youth is one of his top priorities because “young leaders have the energy and ideas we need to change our world.”
He stressed the essential role of education, adding a personal note about the power of education as he was growing up in the Republic of Korea.
“When we give children and youth the education they deserve, they will help transform the world,” he said. He also noted his new initiative, Education First, a $1.5 billion initiative to achieve universal education.
Also speaking at the opening of the forum, ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio reiterated the need to overcome obstacles on education and employment, particularly among women and girls.
Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and more than 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work, according to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO). In Europe and the Middle East, more than half of 15 to 24 year olds are without jobs.
Mr. Osorio noted the new opportunities for young entrepreneurs through start-up companies in arts, technology and advertising businesses.
Social networking sites, he noted, played an important role in promoting the so-called Arab Spring by “giving the youth a voice and making them an important player in the transformation of the region.” In addition, mobile phones are pushing development by allowing users to browse the Internet and transfer money wirelessly.
“Young people need economic opportunity. Young people want the full enjoyment of their political and civil rights and freedoms. Speaking their minds; participating in politics; practicing the religion of their choice; and living their lives without any form of discrimination are some of their legitimate aspirations,” Mr. Osorio said.
“Meaningful participation, openness, inclusion and accountability can be improved by using technology, science, and culture. They all can serve as a vital engine for positive change,” he added.
Among the youth addressing participants was 15-year-old World Food Programme Youth Representative Adora Svitak, who encouraged young people to change history with their tremendous audacity and imagination.
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Source: UN News