Sustainability: Our challenge, our future

13 Aug 2009


Often synonymous with the future, the youth have enough on their plate to be able to see it brightly enough especially with unemployment increasing uncontrollably.


As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out for youth in developing countries: “informal, insecure and low-wage employment is the norm, not the exception.” 


In order to lift some of these heavy burdens of young women and men’s shoulders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the global community to support young people in their development by providing full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life as part of his message for International Youth Day on August 12th, 2009.


On Youth Day, youth gathered together at United Nations headquarters in New York (UNHQ) to share their solutions to the challenge of sustainability.


In commemoration of International Youth Day 2009 under the theme “Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.”, the United Nations Programme on Youth in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs worked together with the United Nations Department of Public Information and Discovery Education to host a showcase at UNHQ. The showcase featured three students who worked with their teacher as "Team Dead Weight", to win the "We Can Change the World Challenge".


Also part of the showcase was Jonathan Hiles of the youth network of the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office of North America, who presented his work, and the work of his network in promoting student-led education in climate change and sustainable development. Members of the youth programme, Directions for our Youth, also took the stage, showing their use of creative expression in advocating that youth take on the challenge of sustainability.


Youth present at the showcase also heard how other sectors of society plan to help them take on the challenge. Representatives of the Discovery Education shared their youth-focused initiatives, and statements were be made by representatives of the Permanent Mission of the United States and of the United Nations.


Among the suggested actions to be taken in conjunction with International Youth Day were organizing support from various stakeholders such as governments, non-governmental organizations and young people to find ways of developing the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) which provides a policy framework and guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. Another way of raising awareness on youth-related issues was to launch campaigns to address the most pressing concerns, encourage youth participation and empowerment with the help of the media and celebrate by showcasing performances to show the contributions youth make to the societies in which they live.


An initiative where young women and men were given the opportunity to exhibit their photos was the Shoot Nations Photo Competition. The competition which ended in May will be displayed at the headquarters until 14 August.


Expressing his confidence in youth, Ban Ki-moon concluded his message by saying: “Sustainability is the most promising path forward, and youth can lead the way”.


For further information about Youth Day, please visit