What Did You Do Today to Support Young People?

In just a few days, the main halls of the United Nations headquarters will be filled with the lovely faces and vibrant energies of young people from all over the world, who will take part in the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly – traditionally organized by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation – trying to explore the role of youth in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is an excellent platform for a very timely discussion, as absolutely every SDG requires youth action for success. With 1.8 billion youth, they are a force that has to be properly valued and used.

as1

Our common desire – UN, member states, young and old people alike – for a transformative global development agenda beyond 2015 can best be achieved only through collective efforts and an enhanced global partnership that places development and the wellbeing of people at its core.

The Agenda 2030, including the SDGs, is a turning point for achieving this aspirational transformative change, and we all need to commit to this meaningful journey. The empowerment of young people, particularly young women, is an essential component of any people-centred development agenda. We often say, in all sorts of UN formats, that they should not only be part of the problem, but also part of the solution! Youth inclusion, youth employment and youth empowerment are key to a really sustainable world!

as2

I truly believe that, despite the very complicated international situation, the younger generation will be able to find the right answers where we failed in asking them the right questions. And also that they will continue, with patience, creativity, wisdom and balance, to show us how to fix what has been done wrong and, ultimately, to lead the way towards a more promising future, in an inter-generational partnership that we should all believe in and support!

Leadership grows from curiosity, creativity, discovery and wonder. But also from self confidence! And for this they need us! We have to support their endeavors! We have to support them to spread their wings! Let’s turn ever more people from placid spectators into energetic and enthusiastic promoters of youth’s empowerment! I will never forget the moment when, participating in a Civil Society Forum as the ambassador of Romania to the UN and Chair of the UN Commission for Social Development, I listened to a homeless young man from Queens, Jose Nunez, who spoke most eloquently about “the right to be empowered”, underlining that “people, not programs, empower people”. Empowering young people is an essential dimension of our common future! Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”. He was right, and I am sure youth will also help themselves by being ever more committed, innovative, hardworking and fearless, following the example of great champions such as Nadia Comaneci, the legendary Romanian gymnast, who once said:

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it, because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath my feet.”

as3

In one of his frequent inspiring messages addressed to the world, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – the first ever in this prestigious position to have appointed a Special Envoy on Youth – said

“Youth engagement can help turn the world we want into the world we deserve. Let us all support young people in creating a future where our planet is protected and all people live in dignity.”

So, as I am asking myself at the end of every day, let me ask you: What did you do today for supporting young people?

This post is a part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation leading up to the 2016 Youth Assembly at the United Nations, a unique platform created to foster dialogue and generate partnerships between youth, private sector, civil society and the United Nations. The winter session will focus on the role of youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To see all posts in the series, click here.