January 12th is celebrated as National Youth Day to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, a great patriot saint of India whose philosophy and ideology had greatly influenced the lives all over the world and whose teachings holds relevance even for Gen –X.

India 2020 has celebrated National Youth Day on 12 January 2020 to strengthen the thought- Youth power and energy should be channelized in nation building.

It is imperative to reckon that youth is a period of intense energy and a successful life can only be achieved if this energy can be directed and harnessed well.

Here are the salient features of the speech given by UNDP Adminstrator- Achim Steiner inspiring young people to envisage the big picture of sustainable development and their crucial contribution to it.

*I would like to briefly introduce myself. My name is Achim Steiner and I am the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1965.UNDP works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions, to accelerate structural transformation to sustainable development and to build resilience to crises and shocks.

You have engaged in discussion on how the UN supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shared inspiring stories of your own involvement and have reflected on how to make a real difference.

*Young people are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda

Our world today is very young. It is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 – the largest generation of young people in history.

As you very well know, youth face enormous challenges – amongst others, those related to inequality, protracted conflicts, displacement, violations of human rights, shrinking civic space, gender inequality and climate change.

There are some very stark facts:

  • More than 1 in 5 young people are not in employment, education or training;
  • At least 1 in 4 young people are affected by violence;
  • Millions of girls become mothers while they are still children.

Too often, young people are excluded from decision-making, development initiatives and peace negotiations; and if they are viewed as trouble-makers rather than solution providers, they are denied a seat and a voice at the table.

  • You are rightly pushing for the changes we urgently need in areas like climate action and in job markets.
  • You are calling for inclusive and just societies, putting new ideas on the table and speaking truth to power.

Supporting youth empowerment and making sure you can fulfil your potential are important ends in themselves – for everyone, everywhere.

The UN’s many roles in supporting and promoting youth leadership

The UN Secretary-General launched the “Youth2030” Strategy – the first-ever UN strategy to engage with young people and support youth empowerment across all the pillars of the UN.

UNDP also strongly believes in the power of volunteerism. UN Volunteers, who are a part of UNDP, work to mobilize volunteers for the United Nations and to advocate for the importance of volunteerism in worldwide.

UN Volunteers has a strong track record in youth engagement, with an emphasis on skills development, empowerment and youth participation in decision-making. It also wants to elevate their voices into global peace and sustainable development efforts.6,500 UN Volunteers are currently deployed in the field.

Take the lead as young people

You have all seen the example of Greta Thunberg – a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who is leading from the front and drawing attention to the need to urgently tackle climate change. She is not sitting idly-by, but rather using the power of technology to mobilize young people, not only in her own country but around the world.

Look also at the example of Wangari Maathai in Kenya who led from the front to protect the environment and advocated for gender equality. Wangari, who grew up in a small village in Kenya, was an activist from a young age and later in life went on to be the first African Woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today’s young people are being inspired by such voices. They have a unique stake in the global dialogue on a range of issues and you are making your voices heard in the most inspiring ways. You rightly demand bold action, from all corners of the globe.

The UN is not only place that you can make change. There are countless ways in which you can meaningfully engage yourself at all levels. For instance, first think about positive changes within your family, school or community.

Raise your voices; volunteer; vote; join youth-led organisations, movements and networks; start grassroots projects; contribute to data collection, analysis and research; hold your governments accountable; start new campaigns and contribute to existing campaigns, offline or online.

Take action against any discrimination that you see against young people.

A range of other issues. The fact is that you can change the world by firstly engaging with the issue.

You do not have to be a politician, a millionaire or a celebrity to lead change. Just look at the technology available now at your fingertips which you can use to influence and bring the positive changes needed.

By being here today, you are embodying the Charter of the United Nations with begins with this powerful statement, ‘we the peoples…’ – you are the peoples of today and crucially, the peoples of tomorrow and this is your United Nations.

(Pls visit to read the complete speech)