The world’s 1.2 billion young people can play a critical role in creating a peaceful world for generations to come, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said on Saturday to mark the International Youth Day.

Antonio Guterres

Guterres, in his message for the 2017 edition of the day, which is marked annually on Aug. 12, underscored the commitment to young people development.

“I’m truly happy to address you on International Youth Day. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am committed to the empowerment and inclusion of every young person around the world.

“I have appointed an impressive new youth envoy; governments must work with young people to successfully achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Empowered young men and women can play a critical role in preventing conflicts and ensuring sustainable peace,’’ Guterres said.

He introduced 26-year old Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka as the youngest and “one of the most important’’ members of his team.

The secretary-general urged youth participants at the day to join the Youth Envoy in mobilising young people, saying: “Together, we can create a peaceful world for generations to come.’’

Against the backdrop that many of the world’s young people are affected by the hardship of conflict and war, the 2017 edition of the day is entitled: “Youth Building Peace’’.

The discussion during the day considered matters of youth, peace and security from a social developmental perspective.

The day also recognised the role of youth as agents of change and critical actors in preventing conflict and building peace.

Organised by the UN Division for Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development, the event draws together experts from youth civil society, government and the UN to explore the various ways in which young people are contributing to building and sustaining peace.

In December 1999, the UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that August 12 should be declared International Youth Day.


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