From 13th - 15th March 2017 the UNODC hosted the annual Youth Forum, in the context of the 60th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

This year we enjoyed from the active contributions and participation of 40 outstanding youth leaders from over 30 different countries, who are all very active in their home communities across the globe.

It is already the sixth time that Youth Forum gathers young people to exchanging ideas, visions and different perspectives on how to better protect the health and wellbeing of their peers, schools and communities. To commemorate the achievements of the Youth Forum supporting the prevention related work of young people, and in bringing the youth perspective to the political discussions, two participants from earlier Youth Forums were given the opportunity to address the official opening of the CND right after the royal quests. Honoured by this possibility, Marcelo from Peru and Radmila from Serbia, shared their personal experiences in how the participation had supported them not only to scale up and initiate activities in their home communities, but also to network and create joint activities with other youth from around the world. They also called to the delegates to strive to make the commitments made in the UNGASS outcome document come in to reality. Another highpoint was the meeting with UNODC's Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov, who was personally welcoming the participants and commending their important work.

Throughout the meeting the group was reflecting and debating the ways substance use impacts their peers, the reasons that lead to it, and the best means to counteract and prevent substance use from the youth perspective.

Reflecting the different experiences coming from different parts of the world, they arrived to a joint consensus statement, accentuating the important role and potential youth have, and calling for the delegates to take strong action for comprehensive prevention and health promotion to address the world drug problem.

The participants planned actively creating concrete plans for continuing their collaboration for their shared cause throughout the coming months and years after returning back home. For harnessing this network of experiences and resources for supporting even more effectively a better future for their peers.

 

 

YOUTH FORUM 2017 STATEMENT

"Excellences, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen we are honoured to be given the opportunity to speak on behalf of many young people around the world. Over the last few days a group of eager students, from over 30 countries, have come together to voice their concerns on the global drug issue. The focus was discussing the causes and consequences of drug abuse among youths, to try and propose a way forward, in what seems an ever growing issue. The work towards this goal has not only taken place in these days but over the course of the last years, with each individual determined to make a change within their community.

We believe the collective ideas from fresh young minds such as ours, can open all our eyes to a vast amount of different solutions to a problem which affects everyone alike. We call on you, the people with the power to change the world, to take into account some of the proposals we have. We, the generation of tomorrow, are the ones most affected by the decisions made today. We believe a broad approach is the best way to tackle a problem which is spread among a wide variety of cultures. There is not one global approach to deal with an issue, that is so individual to every person affected by it. When talking about the causes for the initial use of drugs among our peers, we found that societal factors play a substantial role. Whether it is peer pressure, the icons they are surrounded by or simply wanting to fit in and be "cool". Furthermore lack of education and future prospects leaves children, or entire societies vulnerable. We have several suggestions when it comes to solving these issues.

We believe it is of fundamental importance that youths grow up in a supportive environment. This means ensuring emotional stability by creating non judgmental places where people feel free to share their thoughts and feelings, all within an accepting society. This can be achieved through the further education of guardians and teachers, helping them see how they can best influence and support their children without stigmatising them. The media and role models in society have the greatest influence on children and adults alike. Especially in the present day, many prominent figures such as musicians and actors, encourage the use of harmful substances. In order to resolve this there must be stricter regulations regarding the publications of different media.

We believe too that we can use this same media as a powerful tool to educate and raise awareness for the issue. We would also like to emphasise the importance of education from an early age, targeting schools, which will often provide the base for a child's knowledge. For this reason we would like to call for more accurate educating of pupils around the world eradicating the myths which they might believe in. It is vital we give them the opportunity to develop their personal and social skills. We also believe it is important to work towards education in all countries, ensuring that every child has access to educational opportunities. In order to make advances as a global community, we must all be committed to the cause.

This means we need your support and trust in our work, especially as we are the ones affected the most and very actively involved in our communities. We Know that together we can build a better future."