UNITED NATIONS (Landscape News) – Some 71 million young people are unemployed and 600 million of the world’s 1.2 billion 15- to 24-year-olds live in conflict-affected and fragile states, the U.N.’s youngest senior official said on Friday.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ Envoy on Youth urged governments to strengthen efforts to empower and engage young people during an era she characterized as uncertain and tumultuous.
“It is really the best of the times to be a young person but also the worst of the times,” Wickramanayake said at a press conference in New York ahead of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum.
Salina Abraham, youth coordinator at the Global Landscapes Forum and president of the International Forestry Students’ Association, will attend the ECOSOC youth conference on Jan. 30 and 31, delivering the keynote address at its opening session, which will be broadcast live online.
More than 500 youth advocates will attend the forum to discuss concerns faced by young people – the largest generation of youth in history – including poverty, unemployment, inequalities to climate change, clean energy and safe cities, rural and urban livelihoods, the U.N. said in a statement.
Wickramanayake said youth should be seen as agents of change and be placed at the centre of the global development process, leading the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 17 U.N. anti-poverty targets established in 2015 to be met by 2030, the statement said.
“This is a time in history that we can really make a change because ultimately it is the youth who will lead the implementation of 2030 Agenda,” the 26-year-old said.
Abraham will also jointly moderate a conference session on SDG 15, which sets global targets for sustainable forest management, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss.