Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Youth Forum at the 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

2 March 2020


Good morning.

Around the world, 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders and need treatment. More than half a million people a year die from drug use disorders.

Your engagement on drug use prevention can help change the world for the better. And to take the impact of your work to the next level, you are in the right place.

The world has come together in Vienna this week to shape global drug policy through the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

We urgently have to act on the world drug problem. We have ten years left to achieve this and other targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. A Decade of Action, which is not much time, but I have confidence that with young people like yourselves we can make it.

We need solutions that combine health and criminal justice responses, that are based on scientific evidence and rooted in human rights. If we manage this, we will make progress not only on addressing drugs but also on a number of SDGs, like reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, and peaceful and inclusive societies.

I see three tasks before you this week.

Firstly, you will be working together on a statement that will be delivered on Wednesday during the plenary session of the CND. Make this statement count. It's a unique opportunity to make your voice heard by the delegations gathered here.

Second, you have the chance to learn from each other, exchange experience and best practices. This can only benefit your work. I am sure you are already picking up ideas from your peers that will help shape your projects back home.

Third, this is an occasion for you to engage in a meaningful way with UNODC. You need to tell us how we can best support you in fulfilling the ambitious mission you have set for yourselves in your home countries and communities. The team is here at your disposal - talk to them and make the most of it!

The United Nations turns 75 this year - now that's probably older than your grandparents. Our Secretary-General has focused this anniversary on listening to people worldwide about how they see the future of cooperation between countries, which problems they want us to help them solve, and how.

There is a global online survey at which only takes one minute and which I would really encourage all of you to take. The results will be communicated to world leaders when they meet in New York in September. You can tell them what future you want for yourselves and for the world.

I will read you one of the questions:

"If you picture the world you want in 25 years, what three things would you most want to see?"

Here is your chance to share your vision of the world you want to live in. Maybe this is a world where everyone has access to prevention and treatment for drug dependence and associated diseases.  

UNODC is your ally in making that vision a reality.

I'm very inspired to see how you've taken it upon yourselves to create change in your communities. I wish you a productive time in Vienna and I look forward to reading your statement.

Thank you.