Let me take you on a journey with youth around the world. I want you to put yourself in the shoes of an innocent young person.
Can you imagine, yourself struggling to stay alive? Living in danger and fear all day and night? Can you imagine, no access to the most basic needs, risking to die of hunger or thirst, or no access to toilets or tampons? Can you imagine, no education, skills or training? Or being abducted or shot on your way to school? Can you imagine, no employment? Not knowing what to do with yourself, with your life? Can you imagine, your livelihood threatened because of climate change, or having to escape your flooded home? And can you imagine, being the largest part of the population, but having no say in any decision being made about your life, your future, because of systemic corruption in your country?
Just imagine. And put yourself in the shoes of a young person, that lives like that, every day. This is not an exception. It is a very common reality, most likely far outside our comfort zones. Innocent children and youth all around the world are struggling right now. Suffering from crises and conflicts all around the world And soon, many more wars will arise over water, food and scarce resources. If we don’t act NOW.
Let me take you back to the reality of the post-2015 negotiations. International youth through the MGCY (Major Group for Children and Youth) have been tirelessly involved in the process so far. Even though some progress has been made in the OWG (Open Working Group), reality is that over the past year, we witnessed:
- unreadiness to outgrow linear growth,
- disregard of our sexual and reproductive rights,
- unwillingness to overcome fossil fuel addiction,
- disrespect of the earth’s carrying capacity,
- and no consensus on peace, justice and human rights.
This is not the world I want. Nor any young person to my knowledge. Politics, profits and power are overruling people and planet. This is an unacceptable reality. In this perspective, my generation is one with poor prospects, and ending hope. Do you want that?
However, young people also possess endless potential, and we are drivers beyond this status quo. We, the young people, in all our diversity, are the future, and we are here right now. There are 1.8 billion of us. About 87% living in developing nations. And young people around the world are acting now. We are leading revolutions, we innovate, we solve challenges as social entrepreneurs. Young people are a significant as well as a neglected part of the solution. We are your greatest asset, if only… It is time to unite with the young people, it is time for you to reach out and include a new generation, acting together, harnessing the power of the crowd.
And let me be clear. We all owe it to the young people that are struggling, to do more than we could possibly imagine, to rise beyond ourselves. Going beyond the system as it is, doing what must be done. No longer quietly accepting what is truly not right.
Achieving this will never be possible, when working alone. This is not a one man’s game. Influence comes only to those that collaborate. Build a strong connected network of civil society and new allies all around the world, focusing on lasting impact. Dare to be critical about others, as well as about ourselves, continuously trying to improve. We all need to get out of our comfort zones and show real courage. We will only win when united as nations, as organizations, and as people. Doing good is no longer enough. Post-2015 should be about doing better, together.
I could go on for hours. But we should really stop talking now, and start doing. And clearly, my time is up. Don’t let us run out of time by talking too much. Because in reality, way more important than words, are bold actions. That is what will ultimately determine the future. And bold actions aren’t going to be taken by somebody else. Those actions need to be taken by me and you. Yes, you. What is stopping you from doing more? Imagine standing in a young person’s shoes. What will you change today?
Special thanks to my friend Apurva Mathur for her support in creating this statement.