Young people account for a quarter of the world’s population (UNFPA). In many countries, young people constitute more than 50% of the population. Young people throughout history have been leaders and change makers.
Young people today are living through a remarkable age. Technology and information is changing the world. Knowledge, communication,
products and services are accessible in ways that has never existed before. This has led to fertile conditions for inspiring youth awareness and action to contribute to solving local, national, regional and international problems.
Despite these positives, the world we live in is also one of unprecedented collective challenges. In addition to poverty, inequality and development, population growth, the environment, management of natural resources, food supply, human mobility, social cohesion pose significant threats to the wellbeing of all.
Many youth today have access to tools that enable them to express themselves effectively, creatively, authentically and across cultures. These tools are only getting richer and more widespread.
Lured by moral obligation and optimism for positive impact, young people believe in change for social good and are driven to get involved or take action. The growing creative, technology and cultural sectors clearly demonstrate the abundance of youth leaders. These leaders are also highly influential across society and are shaping the future for everyone, whilst in the process inspiring other young people to do the same.
This is why youth participation in the issues affecting the Right to Development at the level of the United Nations is not only a historic opportunity but also an opportunity that is wholly necessary. The UN High Commission for Human Rights Office of Development staff have actively sought out opportunities to engage with youth, citizens and leaders of today and tomorrow.
It is for these reasons that Ariel Foundation International (AFI) facilitated the Right to Development Youth Summit at the UN. AFI believes passionately in the mutual benefit possible from youth engagement and involvement in UN work, policies and practices. It is the right thing to do and the time is now.