UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for more investment in youth on the occasion of International Youth Day.
“Realizing the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people’s inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives,” said Guterres in a message.
“I call on leaders and adults everywhere to do everything possible to enable the world’s youth to enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity and contribute to the fullest of their great potential.” He highlighted the plights of young people partly as a result of COVID-19
This year’s International Youth Day occurs as the lives and aspirations of young people continue to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Some have lost their lives, and many have seen family members and other loved ones perish. The vulnerabilities of young refugees, displaced persons, young women and girls and others caught up in conflict or disaster have grown more acute.
Some have taken on care burdens or are suffering from increased risks of hunger, violence in the home, or the prospect of never being able to resume their education, he noted.
“A generation’s very formation has been jeopardized, their steps toward adulthood, identity and self-sufficiency thrown off course.”
But at the same time, he said, this generation is also resilient, resourceful and engaged. They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action. They are mobilizing for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world.
They are peacebuilders promoting social cohesion at a time of social distancing, advancing an end to violence globally and advocating harmony at a time of rising hatred. Many are young women who have been on the front lines in mobilizing for justice and climate action, while also serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, he said.
International Youth Day falls on Aug. 12 every year.