By Radwan Jakeem
NEW YORK (IDN) — Celebrated every year on August 12, the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted, reminds us of “a basic truth” that “we need people of all ages, young and old alike, to join forces to build a better world for all”.
In his message for the day, the UN Chief said it underlines “the power of partnerships across generations”. The objective of the day is to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind.
Ageism, according to the UN, is an insidious and often an unaddressed issue in health, human rights and development, and has bearings on both older and younger populations around the world. In addition, ageism regularly intersects with other forms of bias (such as racism and sexism) and impacts people in ways that prevent them to reach their full potential and comprehensively contribute to their community.
The Global Report on Ageism launched by the United Nations in March 2021 highlights that despite lack of research, young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives such as employment, political participation, health and justice. The report also identifies intergenerational interventions as one of the three key strategies to address ageism. Intergenerational activities can also lead to a greater sense of social connectedness and strengthen intergenerational solidarity.
A UN brief on International Youth Day says: “Solidarity across generations is key for sustainable development. As we navigate the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to recognize and address these age-related barriers to ‘build back better’ in a manner that leverages all generations’ strengths and knowledge.”
Too often, ageism, bias and discrimination prevent this essential collaboration between generations, the top UN official observed. “When young people are shut out of the decisions being made about their lives, or when older people are denied a chance to be heard, we all lose,” he spelled out.
Mr. Guterres upheld that as the world faces a series of challenges threatening our collective future, “solidarity and collaboration are more essential than ever”. From COVID-19 to climate change and conflicts to poverty, inequality and discrimination, “we need all hands on deck” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build the better, more peaceful future that everyone seeks.
The Secretary-General said, we need to support young people with massive investments in education and skills-building—”including through next month’s Transforming Education Summit,” said Mr Guterres said.
“We also need to support gender equality and expanded opportunities for young people to participate in civic and political life.”
The UN chief maintained that it is not enough to just listen to young people, “we need to integrate them into decision-making mechanisms at the local, national and international levels”. This, he noted, is at the heart of the UN’s proposal to establish a new Youth Office at the Organization.
At the same time, he pointed to the importance of ensuring that older generations have access to social protection and opportunities to give back to their communities as well as the ability to share the decades of accumulated experience that they have lived.
“On this important day, let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers, and work as one to achieve a more equitable, just and inclusive world for all people,” concluded the Secretary-General.
Meanwhile, in his lecture to the students of Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid reflected on the importance of intergenerational collaboration, conceding that “it is often young people who hold us accountable when we fall short on any issue, whether it be conservation, peace, or human rights”.
As we face a full-fledged planetary crisis with countries locking themselves into “unreasonable positions” during negotiations, he reminded, “it is the young that are stepping up through their activism”.
“It is young people that kept the 1.5-degree goal alive,” he said. “It is young people who refuse our excuses when we, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, delay and dither on taking action to curb emissions and protect the
The world needs “that youthful drive and energy” today, Mr Shahid stressed. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 August 2022]
Photo: Young people attend a youth summit in Jamaica. Credit: UN Jamaica
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