Opening of the Asker Conference on Youth and Governance
Good morning, everyone. How are you?
I would like to welcome you to Norway, first of all. This is the darkest, most gloomy time of year you can come here, so I hope you are doing ok. Today we have nice weather – it has been raining for two weeks, so you’re quite lucky.
I would like to thank the Norwegian Children and Youth Council, and UN-Habitat, who together with the county of Asker are hosting this Conference on Youth and Governance, bringing us all together.
It is pretty clear and obvious that if you want to solve the world’s problems, you need to involve young people. After all, there is a lot of you - so it is definitely a force for positive change that we have to tap into.
Young people have always created world history: Ivar Kamprad - he started IKEA at the age of 17. Thomas Alva Edison - he was 22 when his first patent was approved. And
Malala Yousafzai just won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 - the youngest Peace Prize Laureate ever. So young people achieve a lot at an early age.
One of the advantages of young people is that they don’t necessarily accept the boundaries and limits that the world has put up. And that’s very refreshing. So a lot of new ideas, a lot of new ways of looking at the world emerges.
When young leaders come together, like you do here today, you can bring out the best in each other. The world is dependent on the energy, creativity and stamina of young people to create the future that we are all hoping for. Young people’s participation in, and access to, decision-making is important to create social change. By involving young people, we help them to bring out their potential – and thus create a better future for all of us.
I hope that this conference will be a step in that direction.
Each of us has a responsibility to contribute, and we have the opportunity to contribute, to the societies we live in. We can do this in many different ways; Through supporting minority groups, political activism, by focusing on the environment, the climate, or on sports for instance, by building bridges between different cultures, religions etc. There are many ways of doing this.
All of you will make a difference in the world. So how will you use that opportunity?
The United Nations are focusing very much on youth leadership, and I think that is very positive. The real question we are all asking ourselves, and that is underlying all of this, is what type of world do we want? And if we do want a safer, more just and sustainable one, we cannot delegate that to a future generation. We have to do something about that here and now.
So, over to you now. The next couple of days you will be discussing potential models for youth engagement in Governance, getting into two processes. One is work on the Third Committee in the UN General Assembly next year, and the Habitat III process. I was actually part of working on the Third Committee quite a few years back. So I know a little bit about what’s going on there.
I hope that you will agree on many things. But I’m also hoping that you will disagree quite a bit – because there is a good dynamism there.
It is inspiring to see the work of young people, and that this now has become a key priority for the UN.
I look forward to hearing some of your views, as you are the architects and builders of tomorrow.
Thank you for your attention, and I wish you all the best and good luck with your conference.