Given the disproportionate impact of their suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting highlighted that young people must be at the forefront of planning for a post-COVID-19 future.
From remote workplaces to green energy to truly inclusive decision-making, their vision and courage are more vital than ever.
The High Commissioner informed the participants that one in eight students globally has been left without any access to education or training, most in low-income countries.
Meanwhile, she continued, school closures have rendered girls and young women more vulnerable to child marriage, early pregnancy and gender-based violence.
However, the Ms. Bachelet also stressed that youth have “tremendous potential” to help the world recover.
She thanked young people from around the world for “standing up for our planet and for human rights,” describing their work, commitment and energy as “invaluable”.
“I stand with you,” concluded the High commissioner.
Call for fresh innovation
Deputy Secretary‐General Amina Mohammed urged world leaders to address the needs of young people as they design plans for “getting back to a better place.”
As the world is changing rapidly, she called for fresh innovation in areas from decision-making to work life, pointing out that young people – many of whom are already “digital nomads” rethinking a traditional five-day workweek – must be part of shaping the world’s future trajectory.
While youth cannot be expected to become Prime Ministers and Presidents overnight, the average age of leaders must drop, and more attention must be paid to how many young people are part of the system.
She noted many calls for inclusion and warned adult leaders against sounding like a “broken record.”
“We need to get to the implementation,” she stressed.
Seat at the table
ECOSOC President Collen V. Kelapile noted that as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic and other global challenges, a sustainable future can only be built through youth empowerment and with their meaningful engagement.
“I strongly believe that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a roadmap to build sustainable, inclusive and thriving societies and reinvigorate global solidarity for the 21st Century,” he said.
Now, more than ever, he underscored that “youth legitimately deserve to have a seat at the table”, when decisions about their future are being made.