Vienna (Austria), 17 March 2022 — UNODC’s Youth Forum (28 February-4 March) welcomed its highest-ever number of participants in 2022. 74 young people connecting in from 43 countries were enthusiastic to learn about evidence-based substance use prevention and share each other’s different perspectives and experiences.
Throughout the week, participants embraced take-home messages on evidence-based drug use prevention and imagined how they would like to see positive change reflected in their communities. Youth alumni (participants of previous Youth Fora) warmly welcomed the youth of 2022 and inspired the participants by describing the actions they took after their own experience of the Youth Forum. The young leaders also worked together actively to create a statement of the key messages they wished to convey to the global policymakers attending this week’s 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) (14-18 March).
Today, the youth were invited to deliver their Youth Statement 2022 to delegates attending the Plenary session of the CND. Speaking on behalf of all Youth Forum 2022 participants, Ms. Ingrid Engene Gøranson (Norway) and Mr. Carlos Araujo (El Salvador) urged Member States to continue to invest in evidence-based substance use prevention, and in doing so, to “recognize the tremendous competency, capacity, and motivation of youth by creating opportunities for involvement in policy and decision-making.”
“We have a specific goal: for all people to be healthy,” they said. “In pursuing this goal, we must be committed to prevention now, for the success of future generations,” they added. In their joint statement, the youth requested that young people are engaged “not only as instruments, but as the driving force behind the global implementation of evidence-based prevention programs for youth.”
UNODC commends the young leaders on taking interest in and action towards drug use prevention amidst the continuing challenges presented by COVID-19. As the Youth Initiative steps forth into a new decade of action after marking ten years of its launch in 2012, UNODC reaffirms its commitment to support meaningful youth engagement in addressing the world drug problem, in particular through empowering youth voices in the field of substance use prevention.