Welcome to the Nigerian Model United Nations Conference 2019. It is indeed another great privilege to be among young people making things happen on a global scale. You are here as agents of change and people of dynamic power to make things happen – both locally and globally.
We are not alone. Young people all around the world are coming to the realization that they matter. Their thoughts matter. Their experiences matter. Their ideas matter. Their solutions matter. They are becoming empowered by knowledge to care for the environment, to care for gender equality, to care about world economics, to care about local problem, and to care about politics. We are not alone.
The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history, 1.8 billion. Being connected to each other like never before, young people want to and already contribute to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress and inspiring political change, in urban as well as rural contexts.
Young people are a tremendous and essential asset worth investing in, which opens doors to an unparalleled multiplier effect. Young people face incredible challenges and even life-threatening risks, especially by girls and young women in many parts of the world. Some of these challenges include access to rights, access to quality education, healthcare or decent work as well as conflict related situations.
Young people everywhere are not oblivious to the events affecting humanity on a local and international scale. They are not oblivious to these things because they are also impacted by these same situations. Young people suffer interpersonal violence, are affected by the slow onsets of climate change or frontline impacts of disasters. They experience intersecting forms of marginalization, and struggle with the brunt of a global erosion of human rights and impeded access to justice. Young people have experiential knowledge of the need for sustainable development goals.
With the large and increasing number of young people across the globe armed with the knowledge of the world’s problems and with vested interests in the solution, it is abundantly clear that more and more young people are raising their stakes on the global effort for achieving the sustainable development goals.
Many young people are today actively engaged in the activities of local NGOs as they help to execute developmental interventions geared towards achieving the SDGs. Participating in a local NGO is a worthwhile way of supporting sustainable development efforts. Young people are extremely active as they stand up for their rights, and create their own conditions that allow for active contribution, progress, and performance yielding commendable results.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration. And several examples exist to show the activism and uniqueness of the youth contribution as it is shaping the narratives on the sustainable development goals.
Restless Development is a nongovernmental organization, which helps young people participate in national decision-making processes related to the SDGs. YP Foundation initiated The Butterfly Project is a youth led interventional program that gives young women in India the confidence to demand change in their local communities. The Project provides a forum in which these young women can address issues of identity, human rights, sexual and reproductive rights, and discrimination through digital media. Disenfranchised young women and girls have used the strength of their own digital stories to become powerful community advocates for equity, gender equality, and freedom from violence in their interactions with decision makers including families, community leaders and key stakeholders. This is but a mere mention compared to the large-scale work and influence young people are wielding all around the world in their efforts to join with adults, organizations, and the United Nations to see to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Therefore, I want you to always remember that, in this our collective fight to 2030, in this our communal strive to a world where all can live and thrive, in our march to ending poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality, and controlling climate; we have a chance to make good on all our shared promises.