International Youth Day 2019: Be proactive, don’t wait for change, UN Youth Envoy tells young people

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From: Seyi Adebote, Abuja

As Nigeria joins other youths across the globe to commemorate the 2019 International Youth Day, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth on Monday, urged young people around the world to be proactive, and not wait for an invitation before taking laudable developmental actions.

These actions, she said should be things that matters to them and capable of transforming their future.

Wickramanayake made this call on the latest episode of the Climate Talk Podcast.

“Nothing will be handed over to us on a golden plater because we are young people. Unless you have very proactive leaders, no one will ask, what do young people think about this?” says Wickramanayake.

“We cannot wait for 50 years for a (bad) system to be changed; we might as well not have a planet. We have to always go out there and elbow our way out. We really have to be demanding and apologetic about it. If we wait thinking someone will ask how you feel, we may never have the opportunity to have our voices heard”.

Wickramanayake shared how in 2014, she and a group of friends started Hashtag Generation which played a central role in changing the political narrative in Sri Lanka.

On the Climate Talk Podcast, the UN Youth Envoy also announced that the launching of the United Nations Youth Strategy on 24 September, 2018 remained an achievement she is very proud of.

She shared her plan to ensure more young people become a part of decision-making at the global level.

Wickramanayake restated her commitment to extensive work on youth development and participation.

The UN Youth Envoy had earlier announced that the entire month of August would be used to celebrate the works of young people and promote ways the United Nations can improve her work with, and for young people.

Since August 2000, the United Nations have designated the 12th day of August as the official United Nations International Youth Day.

The awareness day is to draw the world’s attention to young people and highlight cultural and legal issues. The theme of International Youth Day 2019 is “Transforming education”, and it seeks to highlight efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

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