UNODC is delighted to celebrate a decade since the launch of the Youth Initiative in 2012; a decade filled with 10 Youth Forums and their ongoing cohorts, 20 strong youth voices representing their fellow youth participants, 97 countries supporting youths, 371 impacted and empowered youths and countless inspired young people becoming the change they want to see in their communities.
As it was the goal since its launch, the Youth Initiative continues to engage and empower 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. With the ever-evolving role of social media during the past 10 years, we continue to find ways to use social media and new digital platforms to engage with youths to discuss, inspire and provide a safe-space where youth can learn from each other, promote healthy lifestyles and create a network of informed and active youth around the world.
UNODC also continues to uphold the tradition of empowering youths to convey their voice to the policy making body of UNODC and policy makers of its Member States during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. With the new UNODC Strategy 2021 – 2025 reaffirming the commitment to protect children and harness the transformative power of youth, we stand ready to support youth in their journey to become agents of change and innovation. An outcome from exemplary youth action is the handbook developed for policy makers and community leaders on guiding and promoting meaningful youth engagement in drug prevention work. A project driven by bright, inspiring youth participants from Youth Forum 2019, the Handbook on Youth Participation in Drug Prevention Work incorporates experiences of the youths involved in its creation, and recommends key messages for decision makers on mobilizing the power of youth to bring maximized positive outcomes.
In addition, DAPC Grants are also fostering evidence-based prevention around the world, especially providing support to youth-centred activities in line with the UNODC/WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention in low and middle-income countries. Thus far, UNODC has awarded 121 grants in 54 countries, and looks forward to supporting many more youths and projects engaging youth participation in implementing prevention strategies and awareness-raising activities.
As we step forward into our next decade with the Youth Initiative running strong, let us take a look back on the footprints we have made during the last decade.
Thanks to the generous support of the Russian Federation, the Sovereign Order of Malta, and the Drug Abuse Prevention Center (Japan).