Seventy years ago, a revolutionary idea to change the landscape of a fragile multilateral scene was introduced. Establishing the United Nations was the necessary response for a world recovering from the devastation of two world wars. The idea was simple, yet very bold; a global body to promote the principles of "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person ... and to promote social progress and better standards of life". Looking at the world today, we see that the United Nations has done justice to most of its responsibilities in upholding these principles. However, much work remains, particularly in regard to the inclusion of the world's youth in development and decision-making processes.
The 70-year old world body is embarking on a new promise for the people and the planet with the adoption of a new generation of development goals and a climate change agreement by the end of the year. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the climate agreement offer the unique opportunity to change the course of history by putting the planet on a sustainable path and unleashing the potential of its people. But ahead of the adoption of these landmark agreements, and while celebrating the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations, the international community has to reflect on the unprecedented challenges it faces today from the rise of extremism and the mushrooming of conflicts, the evident threat of climate change, human rights violations and the situation with gender equality, as well as the lack of inclusive governance structures. However, core to all these issues and one of the most notable challenges that test our commitment to the United Nations principles is that of the surging youth population, with currently nearly half the global population under 25 years of age.
The challenges that face this large generation of youth are unparalleled, but with them comes a wealth of opportunities. Young people have the ability to organize and take individual and collective action on issues that matter to them. We have seen this over and over as young people garner greater attention and lead large-scale projects and initiatives at the grass-roots and global levels.
Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has increasingly recognized the unique role that youth can play in development. This has been specifically reflected over the past two decades, as the United Nations has shifted to depend...