Vienna (Austria), 28 February 2022 – “Our voices are strong, and we must be heard in the present and remain impactful in the future.” This call to action by participants from last year's UNODC Youth Forum is a reminder of UNODC’s commitment to empowering youth to work towards preventing drug use worldwide. The Youth Forum, under the umbrella of the UNODC Youth Initiative, inspires young people from around the globe to connect with each other and be active in their communities towards evidence-based drug use prevention and health promotion.
UNODC is celebrating a decade since the launch of the Youth Initiative in 2012, which has seen 10 Youth Fora held with the participation of 371 young people from 97 countries. The Youth Initiative continues to encourage young people to reflect on the potential impact of substance use in their schools and communities, and to start taking effective and evidence-based action to prevent substance use.
As the Youth Initiative steps forward into its next decade of action, UNODC continues to expand its youth community through the Youth Forum 2022. Organized virtually from 28 February to 4 March 2022, this year’s forum brings together some 75 young leaders to learn about evidence-based drug use prevention, discuss various perspectives on the world drug problem, and be empowered to continue action within the field of drug use prevention and health promotion.
“Young people are among the most vulnerable to drug use and the most affected. With their energy and fresh views young people are better placed than anyone to achieve true, lasting change in their communities,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UNODC. She told participants: “your engagement will be essential in raising awareness, changing attitudes, and developing solutions.”
Alani Meltel, a youth from Palau reflected: “I’m here to learn about how different people from around the world deal with this issue that we all face in our own communities, and how we can work together to improve the world for future generations.” Despite not being able to be present together in person, youth are coming together with high hopes and commitments to making the world a better place in which to live, learn, and grow together.
Continuing the tradition of empowering youth to make their voices heard by global policymakers, throughout the Youth Forum participants will develop a joint Youth Statement to be delivered during the 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the United Nations’ principal policy-making body for drug-related matters. UNODC reaffirms its commitment to protecting children and harnessing the transformative power of youth, and stands ready to support young people to become agents of change and innovation in their communities.