The world will Wednesday celebrate the International Youth Day 2020 under the theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, which seeks to highlight how the engagement of young people at subnational, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how youth representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
The commemoration of the International Youth Day on 12th of August began in the year 2000, following its endorsement by the UN General Assembly in 1999 as a way of promoting better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), as well as celebrating the contribution that young people make in education, employment, conflict resolution and social justice among others.
The UN says this year’s celebration is “an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement”. The commemoration will feature a podcast-style discussion that will be hosted by youth and for youth, as well as creative activities such as spoken word performances recognizing the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life and processes.
The UN says enabling the engagement of youth in formal political mechanisms increases the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits as well as contributing to better and more sustainable policies, adding that youth engagement also has symbolic importance that can further contribute to restoring trust in public institutions, especially among youth.
As the UN turns 75, and with only 10 years remaining to make the 2030 Agenda a reality for all, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in severe economic and social impacts around the world. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused and will form a key element in an inclusive recovery process and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during this Decade of Action.
“In these circumstances, it is important to ensure that youth are heard alongside other community and patient voices in the rollout of health and non-health interventions in response to COVID-19.” says the UN. “Moreover, the vast majority of challenges humanity currently faces, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change require concerted global action and the meaningful engagement and participation of young people to be addressed effectively,” says the UN.
According to forecasts, youths and future generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, while their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic and equity considerations. In other to mitigate the fallout of the pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had outlined practical measures governments can take to design inclusive and fair recovery measures that leave no one behind, based on the findings of a survey of 90 youth organisations in 48 countries.
“Realizing the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people’s inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives,” said António Guterres, in his keynote 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.”
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