Welcome to the 2019 Nigeria Model United Nations Conference. This is another year, and yet the news of intolerance and conflict around the world has not dwindled. Billions of people still reside in conflict affected and fragile states. It is a new dawn, but everywhere you turn, there are yet disturbing pictures of poverty, hunger, children dying, riots, chaos, fright, flight, and wars.
We have celebrated new birthdays, yet young people have not outgrown the impact of climate change, inequality, marginalization, prejudice, negative stereotyping, and blacklash from the media and uninformed people of the world. They see the child soldiers, they see the teen suicide bombers, they see the school riots, they see the school shooting, and they see the street protest –and they fear the growing strength of youth.
It is a new season, but we are yet to see the change that was promised from the days of our birth. It is a new day, but the world is yet looking just the same. It is a new voice, but will they let us be heard?
According to International human rights law, it is the right of young people to challenge misconceptions that stand in the way of new economic models. It is our right to support education and information provision on the new economy and help initiate pilot projects. It is our right to contribute to building a mainstream conversation for the role of the new economy in sustainable development. It is our right to fight inequality directly through our actions in youth work and non-formal education. It is our right to highlight the problems with extreme inequality in order to bring the problem to the spotlight and influence the public. And yes, it is our right to influence other young people facing inequality to be actors of change in their own communities and advocate for an equal society. Yes, we must enforce our rights to participate for peace.
It is a powerful reality, yet, the power of young people is probably the most untapped resource in the global endeavors towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This has to change.
There has to be a change from exclusion to inclusion. There has to be a change from resource waste to resource multiplication –for if a young person is empowered to lend their voice and talent for peace, the world will reap a thunder of voices and pool of talent that will help in the promotion of peace, tolerance and non-conflict resolution – as we focus on the road ahead in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
This powerful reality in the new dawn and season of this year is the reason we are here as agents of change to a world desperately in need of fresh eyes, fresh breath, and renewed strength. A world in need of young people. A world that needs you.
Once again, I welcome you.