Vienna (Austria), 21 August 2020 – To celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August 2020, the UN family in Vienna organized two webinars to discuss active and meaningful youth engagement. Over 200 people participated – 75 per cent were under the age of 35 - asking questions and interacting with panellists from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other Vienna-Based Organizations (VBOs)*.
This year’s theme for International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, and to draw lessons learned on how, as critical agents of change, their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
Although the mandates of VBOs vary greatly, various organizations could come together on International Youth Day to celebrate youth engagement and young people throughout the UN system.
In Vienna, the two panels reflected upon individual perspectives of young people working at the Vienna International Center (VIC) and covered different topics about the involvement of youth in their programmatic work. Representatives from the different organizations highlighted the plethora of youth-focused and youth-based initiatives. Among others, the internship programme, the Young Professionals Programme, the UN Nuclear Young Generation and the Young UN were also highlighted.
Opening statements were made by different heads and representatives from Vienna-Based Organizations (VBOs), including UNODC’s Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Waly. She vowed to continue to support young people when stating: “To all our young partners, I pledge UNODC’s full support and respect. International Youth Day must be a reminder to young people worldwide that your voice matters.”
Youth and young people are essential to accomplish UNODC’s mandates of enhancing the rule of law and improving human security, including justice and health priorities. UNODC continues to emphasize meaningful youth engagement to empower young people to become leaders in their communities, representing the world’s best hope for recovering better from the COVID-19 crisis and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
With just 10 more years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — our shared vision to end poverty, rescue the planet and build a peaceful world, the participation of young people is imperative. Indeed, as the world enters the Decade of Action, the youth is essential in mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals a reality.
* The United Nations Office in Vienna (UNIS), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the International Atomic and Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Office on Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)