Today, there are more than 1.8 Billion young people in the world; this is an important demographic the world cannot afford to leave behind. Rather, we need to tap into their energy, creativity and ambitions to help build a better world for them.
We must empower them and build their capabilities to ensure their full and meaningful participation. We must create space for young people to express their opinions, to create solutions to development challenges as equal partners.
The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an unprecedented opportunity for young people to count, claim their rights and realize their aspirations.
“When countries invest in the health and education of their youth populations and create opportunities for them to realize their full potential, they are positioned to realize a demographic dividend, which can propel economic growth and promote peace”, Mark Bryan Schreiner, UNFPA Representative to Rwanda.
Rwanda stands out as a model of youth empowerment, youth participation and leadership. Peace building initiatives include inter alia, the integration of peace education in national curricula for primary and secondary schools and in civic education.
“The ONE UN in Rwanda remains committed to supporting the efforts of the Government of Rwanda with partners to develop our greatest asset, young people, so that they realize their full potential and secure their place at the heart of development”, Fodé Ndiaye, UN Resident Coordinator to Rwanda.
“The SDG agenda, including sustaining peace, is in the hands of young women and men - skilled, educated, in good health, empowered and contributing to inclusive transformational growth. The recent successful Youth Connekt Africa Summit clearly demonstrates it.”
Today, 12th August 2017 marks the International Youth Day under theme Youth Building Peace.
The International Youth Day (IYD) is a time the world, governments, development actors and communities celebrate young people as a force for positive social change and for building peaceful, cohesive and resilient societies.
The IYD was first established in 1999 by the United Nations Security Council and calls upon governments, international community, development actors and civil society organizations to recognize the important role young people can play in development and more importantly, in prevention and resolution of conflicts. It marked the end of an era when young people were perceived as passive recipients of development welfare and brought them into the mainstream of development as active change agents.
“If we want a more peaceful world, we can no longer afford to leave young people behind. We must listen to and work with them”, Dr Natalia Kanem, UNFPA acting Executive Director.