Welcome to the UNODC Youth Forum 2022.
I am delighted that this year we have the highest number of participants ever in our Youth Forum, from 43 countries around the world.
I commend our young leaders for dedicating their efforts and attention to drug use prevention, in the face of many obstacles posed by the pandemic.
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.
Such change is urgently needed. According to our most recent global data, half a million people died in a single year as a result of drug use, and 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.
Your engagement will be essential in raising awareness, changing attitudes, and developing solutions.
This Forum is an opportunity to network, learn from one another, and share your experiences on how drug prevention can be addressed in your communities.
My colleagues and I at UNODC are committed to helping you connect and mobilize together with other young people around the world, not only against drug challenges, but also against corruption, crime and terrorism.
One of our key platforms is the UNODC Youth Initiative ,which is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year.
I am thankful to Malta and Russia for their longstanding support, and I invite you all to visit the website of the Youth Initiative and to engage with its activities.
I wish you fruitful discussions during this Forum, and I look forward to hearing the statement that you are preparing for the 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March.