UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says that young people are leaders of today in addition to being leaders of tomorrow.

He said this at the ongoing annual Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum at the UN headquarters in New York.

Guterres said: “Young people are leaders of today, not just tomorrow. A warm welcome to everyone at the ECOSOC Youth Forum”.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in her advice for youth early in their career said: “Young people should make some noise, take action and call for accountability for the SDGs.

“With their involvement we will succeed with the 2030 Agenda. Work hard, thank those who help you and be grateful for the journey.”

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, tasked the older people to not only give youth a seat at the table but give them the table.

“Don’t only give the 1.8 billion young a seat at the table, give them the table. It’s their future more than many others,” Wickramanayake said.

“In many countries we make up the majority of the population- the largest ever seen. If the world’s problems are to be solved, it’s not going to happen without us.”

She regretted that more than 40 per cent of the world’s young people were either unemployed, or working but still living below the poverty line, adding that more needed to be done to empower and advocate for them.

The UN youth envoy also identified the lack of representation of youth in politics and government in many countries.

In this situation, building on the work of young people to address the problems of the young people is critical, Wickramanayake stressed.

Marie Chatardová, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, said it was vital to empower young people to break cycles of poverty allow them to fulfil their potential to the fullest.

“If young people have the right support, education, and means, they can go on to build better societies. They have energy, creativity, and innovation to power entrepreneurship and create jobs for themselves and others”

Chatardová cited examples of the youth taking action on pressing global concerns, such as on impacts of climate change or growing pollution.

She said young people do not wait idly for others to transform their ideas into reality, adding they are leaders who roll up their sleeves and work hard to transform their societies.