Youth leaders share positive visions of the future, as Guterres launches UN75 in New York

UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General António Guterres (centre left) takes part in a UN75 Dialogue with youth on the theme ‘Youth in the Driving Seat’.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Six youth leaders from around the world were at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday to share their ambitious visions for a future where international cooperation is prioritized and everyone’s voice is heard.

They took part in a discussion with Secretary-General António Guterres marking the official launch of dialogues being held worldwide this year to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary.

As Mr. Guterres explained, this initial high-profile UN75 dialogue will set the tone for these global conversations on how the Organization can work harder to create a better future for all.

“We want to change, we want to be better, we want to respond to your aspirations, to your concerns,” he said.

“We want you to have the opportunity to play the role that youth must play in the modern world in which we live, and especially in the world we are trying to build.”

Here to listen

Diverging from most UN meetings, where speeches from the dais are the norm, the Secretary-General instead sat in a semi-circle with the participants, stressing that he was there to listen, not to take questions.

For recent graduate Jahan Rifai, from Jordan, a better world means the more than 71 million people who have been uprooted by war or persecution, being able to return home.

“I would also like to see the resolution of the conflicts of today as well as of yesterday that have continued on with no seeming end in sight,” she added.

“This may be a little too optimistic, or a little too cliché, but I would like to see a world with no fear, a world with no hatred, and a world where people can hope—but hope, with reason.”

Earlier, Mr. Guterres had asked the panellists, as well as scores of young people in the room, if they felt the world will be better, worse or the same in 25 years’ time, when the UN turns 100.

“I think there is a wave of optimism,” he stated, based on the show of hands.

Natalia Herbst from Argentina was in the glass-half-full camp, but with reservations.  As an activist for social inclusion, she said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) already provide a roadmap for a more just future, but only if everyone gets on board.

“The ongoing resistance from many power holders to adhere to a very basic fact-based consensus which is relevant to climate change and to reproductive rights is becoming very challenging to fulfil the SDG agenda by 2030, which would be a very promising step towards a better 2045”, she stated.

The tech challenge

Gender equality is a UN priority, and the Secretary-General found an ally in Isaiah Owolabi, co-founder of the HACEY Health Initiative which works to improve the lives of women and girls in Nigeria.

He has found that technology is an obstacle to achieving gender equality but also to eradicating poverty.

“And if we also look at climate change, it’s something that the world should be very, very concerned about because it has the capacity to negatively impact generations across different sectors, and it has also the capacity to cause chaos beyond what we can imagine”, he added.

“So even when we are making the biggest of plans and we are deploying the biggest of technology tools, we should be very wary of the threats posed by climate change.”

Eleonore Pauwels from Belgium researches the security and governance implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies.  She underscored the “unique role” of the UN to act as a bridge between the political and technical sectors, promoting the use of powerful new technologies for the common good.

She explained that while AI and cybersecurity can help prevent hate speech, reduce human trafficking, ward against election fraud, and deter cybercrime, they are not entirely risk-free.

“AI plus DNA technologies mean that we can develop precision medicine; we can also develop more powerful biotech weapons”, she said.  “So, how do we train the next generation to anticipate, think and translate norms into accountability mechanisms that will protect us? I think that is really the next challenge.”

UN staff member Ahmit Joshi, from Nepal, also hoped for more action to curb the negative use of AI, and to protect people’s right to privacy.

“Data can be collected by both corporations as well as governments,” said Mr. Joshi, who is a member of the Young UN network.

“Corporations try to collect data in the name of making profits without getting explicit consent from you.  At the same time, Governments start collecting and monitoring and tracking you 24/7 to suppress your voice.  So where are we now heading to? There is no freedom of speech.”

UN75: More than a birthday celebration

The Secretary-General will present the opinions, ideas and solutions generated through the various UN75 dialogues globally, and an online survey initiative, at a high-level summit for world leaders in September.

Cristina Petcu, a global governance researcher from Romania, hoped this anniversary year will be “more than just a birthday celebration”.

She told Mr. Guterres: “I would also encourage you to treat the UN’s 75th anniversary as a landing pad for a few timely innovative reforms for global governance, but more as a launch pad for more ambitious reforms that might take more time to mature and to garner political support.”                    

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU finally to extend sanctions on Russia despite arguments; Greece again in Europe’s spotlight

What is the Internet of Things?

Scale of displacement across Myanmar ‘very difficult to gauge’, says UN refugee agency

EU migrant crisis: Germany, France and UK to show the way. Will the rest of the EU follow?

Global Recovery: The EU disburses SDR 141 Million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust

Joint  EU-US Statement on  the Global Methane Pledge 

“Joining forces to #BeatPollution”, a Sting Exclusive by the Head of UNEP in Brussels

This is what CEOs around the world see as the biggest risks to business

How scientists are turning living cells into the tiny factories of the future

COVID-19 is threatening the lives of migrant children held in US custody

The COVID-19 recovery can be the vaccine for climate change

At G20 Summit OECD’s Gurría says collective action vital to tackle global challenges

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Why trade wars have no winners

GSMA Announces Final Event Lineup for Highly Anticipated 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

EU leading in global agri-food trade

Member States’ compliance with EU law in 2018: efforts are paying off, but improvements still needed

The widely advertised hazards of the EU not that ominous; the sting is financial woes

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

MEPs adopt Technical Support Instrument to speed up post-COVID-19 recovery

MEPs demand end to EU arms exports to Saudi Arabia

The ECB ‘accidentally’ followed IMF‘s policy advice for growth and job creation by printing more money

Brexit: European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Why our future relies on more inclusive and transparent innovation

What’s behind South Korea’s elderly crime wave?

European Commissioner for Youth wants young people to be at heart of policy making

EU: All economic indicators in free fall

Stop wars disguised as peace missions

Young translators at EU schools – Commission opens registration for 2020 translation contest

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

ECB money bonanza not enough to revive euro area, Germany longs to rule with stagnation

Five avoidable deaths per minute shows urgent need for action on patient safety

Towards a seamless internal EU market for industrial goods

Digital Green Certificate is the right move but speeding up vaccination is key

Myanmar doing too little to ensure displaced Rohingya return: UN refugee agency chief

Brexit: UK business fear of a no-deal scenario preparing for the worst

How man and machine can work together in the age of AI

MWC 2016 LIVE: Orange targets VoLTE and Voice over Wi-Fi; strikes Google partnership

75 years after Auschwitz liberation, antisemitism still threatens ‘foundations of democratic societies’

UNESCO food and culture forum dishes up fresh serving of SDGs

European markets itchy with short-term disturbances

Bioethics: how to recover trust in the doctor-patient relationship

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

“Healthcare system and socioeconomic inequities”-through the lens of developing nations

China repels EU allegations of export subsidies

Germany’s fiscal and financial self-destructive policies

Cameron readies to support ‘yes’ for Britain in the EU

How Bangladesh’s leaders should respond to the economic threats of COVID-19

Civil protection: Parliament strengthens EU disaster response capability

Where are fleeing Afghans finding refuge?

Why the 33,000 staff European Commission did not have a real contingency plan for the refugee crisis?

MEPs approve the EU’s new culture programme

Human Rights breaches in Russia, Afghanistan and Burkina Faso

From raised fists at the 1968 Olympics to taking the knee: A history of racial justice protests in sport

Trump’s Russian affair spills over and upsets Europe

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

MEPs vote for upgrade to rail passenger rights

Mobile technology saving lives: changing healthcare with simple technology solutions

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: