Now is such an exciting time for a young person at the United Nations, as attention and discussion shifts to the needs of the largest generation of youth the world has ever seen, and the question of who will lead the development initiatives around the world. At all levels, in the United Nations, we look to include young people in our work and decision making processes, opening up and making the system more transparent and inclusive than ever before.
We have so far been successful in boosting the issue of youth on the international agenda, and as the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth I have been tasked with the duty of carrying this message to all corners of the globe. I celebrated youth day at the Latin American Youth Forum, and later in the field with young people in remote villages to listen to their hopes for the future. I urged them to place value in education, as enlightenment brings with it hope and opportunity.
I will visit Latin America again in September for the BYND2015 Summit on Youth and ICT, hosted by the President of Costa Rica, Ms Laura Chinchilla, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). As the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), ITU brings a unique perspective and understanding of the opportunity which arises when every citizen on earth is connected to the global communications infrastructure made up of mobile phones and the internet.
The Summit in Costa Rica will call upon youth advocates to stand up for the role of information and communications technology in the context of development, by helping illustrate the lifeline these tools can extend to people in difficult if not dire circumstances. Young people are the most obvious protagonists of the potential influence of ICTs to further the global development agenda. Who better to help un-tap the full potential of ICTs for social good?
Even though the Summit only officially starts in September, the discussion on the ICT needs and priorities of future generations is already underway online, via social media and an online crowdsourcing platform. We are asking young people for their ideas on how ICT can help make a difference in people’s lives, and what is stopping these ideas materialize. President Chinchilla will, with the support of myself and others, deliver your messages to the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this year.
I am pleased that I will be joined in Costa Rica by young people from all around the world, including two who have shown dedication and creativity in helping advance the goals of the BYND2015 Summit through their contributions to the online crowdsourcing process. Komborerai Murimba from Harare, Zimbabwe; and Zarina Khaldarova from Tashkent, Uzbekistan have both been awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Costa Rica to participate in the Summit; and I look forward to meeting them there personally.
During the event, we will be joined online by more young people, who through a distributed presence of more than 1000 hubs and offsite locations, will be tuning in at different times to provide localized, regional perspectives. This is the power of ICT: to break down the Summit walls and extend the impact of what we are doing beyond the conference venue. Let’s young people of the world come online together around the BYND2015 Summit to help demonstrate the full impact of these tools.
There are still tech-give-aways, as well as leadership roles on the Summit’s Youth Advisory Board up for grabs… So what are you waiting for? Help us craft a message to take it to the world leaders. Help us shape the future you want!
Congratulations again to Komborerai and Zarina, and see you all in San José.
@AhmadAlhendawi is the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. Mr. Alhendawi is a strong youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels, he has written extensively on youth and civil society and co-founded the International Youth Council based in New York.