World

With COVID-19 Disrupting Education for Over 1.6 Billion Students, Pandemic Recovery Must Prioritize Young People’s Needs, Secretary-General Tells World Youth Forum

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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the opening ceremony of the World Youth Forum, held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, today:

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected us all. But, its impact on young people has been especially heart-breaking. More than 1.6 billion have seen their education disrupted. We’re seeing massive youth unemployment. Access to services like health care and counselling is dwindling. And the mental health crisis is affecting young people in an outsized way.

At the same time, young people have stepped up. In the streets and online, they’re calling for change, demanding equality, peace, justice and action on the climate crisis. They’re supporting one another in their neighbourhoods and on social media. And through events like this one, they’re providing ideas and solutions on how communities can rebuild, and emerge stronger from the pandemic.

The theme of this conference — “Back Together: The World After COVID-19” — reminds us that we have no time to lose. Building a better future starts today.

So, to the young people attending this forum: keep speaking out. Keep identifying the solutions and actions we need to recover. And to the leaders and policymakers joining this forum: as you look to recovery, look to young people. Young people are an incredible source of ideas and innovative solutions. Their needs must come first in policy and investment discussions.

I look forward to hearing the results of this forum, and to working with all of you to shape a better future.

For information media. Not an official record.