Honorable Chair, distinguished Delegates, dear fellow Youth Delegates,
I am honored to address you today in an independent role as the UN Youth Delegates of Germany. In this role, I have traveled across our country to meet with a wide range of young people who were interested, informed and very motivated. Together, we discussed issues close to their hearts and I would like to share those with you. We have heard time and again that Children and Youth are the future, but we want to emphasize that we are the present as well. And in the present, we demand your attention.
Children and young people, especially girls and young women, have been disproportionately affected by multiple crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, war and violent conflicts. This year’s International Youth Day, on the 12th of August, was held under the objective of Intergenerational Solidarity. During the pandemic, children and young people have repeatedly been asked to act in solidarity with the older generations, to protect their health and lighten the burden on healthcare systems.
This meant that children and youth did as much as they could to minimize their social circles, missing out on crucial experiences such as playing with other children, pursuing sports and hobbies, and engaging in volunteer activites as well as formats of non-formal education. Schools and universites moved their teaching online, which almost confined children and youth to the walls of their homes.
We have seen reports of a rise in domestic violence and abuse. These years have taken a huge toll on the mental health of children and young people. Our youth cannot be postponed to some later date, so when you are enacting your plans to build back better, we ask you to put children and youth first.
When will adults and older generations act in solidarity with us, and respect and enact the full range of our rights at all levels, especially CRC Art. 12, the right to be heard? It is important to recognize and act upon the protection needs of children, especially in war and conflict and for children and youth on the move.
However, us children and youth should not only be seen as in need of protection and as recipients of provisions, but also as valuable participants to solutions to issues that affect us, as well as generations to come. We would like to draw your attention to Security Council resolution 2250, the youth, peace and security agenda, which recognizes the vital role of meaningful youth participation and inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels in local, national, regional and international institutions.
Many may think that as young people from one of the wealthiest countries in the world, these crises are none of our business. But especially the effects of human-made climate change affect us all. As we sit here, conscious of our immense privileges, we recognize that some countries in the global south are disproportionately more affected by the worst effects of climate change. We ask of you to act in generational and interna3onal solidarity and to respect the promises made to us young people and to unborn generations, especially the 1.5 degree target. Most of the time, people talk about children and young people and not with them, denying us the possibility to make our views known. We want to emphasize our agency, capability and expertise.
Our lived realities also matter in the present and it is our fundamental right to be heard and to participate in the making of decisions that affect us. You as the older generations need to free up more seats at the table and allow for transparent and participative decision-making.
To further this, we welcome the resolution on the creation of a new UN Youth Office. We are at a pivotal point in time where it is in your hands to shape what this office will look like. This is why we would like to encourage you to ensure that a wide range of young people from diverse backgrounds and from across the world will be included in the creation process of this office, through a UN-led meaningful and inclusive consultation process, but also at Member-State level through consultations with relevant youth actors in your respective countries.
Only then can the new UN Youth Office work for the best interests of the group it is supposed to represent and engage with. To conclude I would like to sum up our statement in one core message: Under the theme of intergenerational solidarity, please recognize the incredible solidarity shown by children and young people towards older generations during the pandemic, and their exposure to your mistakes, especially in climate policies, in recent years. We are now asking you to act in solidarity with us and do what is in your power and responsibility for a livable future for us all.