By UNDP Newsroom

--Focus Of The Year Is Dialogue And Mutual Understanding --

New York, 12 August 2010: The International Year of Youth is being launched today in the General Assembly Hall with an eclectic event of speeches, musical performances, videos and poetry. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be on hand with welcoming words to kick off the Year, which runs from 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011 under the theme Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.

The Year aims to promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions and civilizations.

In a message issued on the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “in a world in which different peoples and traditions are coming into closer, more frequent contact than ever before, it is crucial that young people learn how to listen intently, empathize with others, acknowledge divergent opinions, and be able to resolve conflicts.” He called for strengthening efforts “to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours.” In addition to the Secretary-General, today's special event will be addressed by the Minister of Youth, Sport and Physical Education of Tunisia, Samir Laabidi and the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Benin to the United Nations, Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou.

In Ghana, the Government is launching it Youth Policy at Elmina in the Central Region to coincide with the commemoration of the Day. Ghana drafted its first Youth Policy in 1999. Since then it has been undergoing changes and the last draft has received Cabinet approval. It is expected that the Policy will give direction to youth activities in the country from the community to the national levels.

Already a four-day Youth Conference under the theme “Committing to the Youth Agenda: The Call for Action,” has ended in Accra with 200 participants drawn from the West Africa sub-region, Kenya, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Western Sahara. It was organized by Youth Bridge Foundation, with support from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, UNFPA.

There are more than 1.2 billion young people aged between 15 and 24 years in the world, accounting for about 18 per cent of the world population. The International Year of Youth presents an opportunity to highlight the contributions that youth are making to society, and to advance their full and effective participation.

Developing countries are home to 87 per cent of youth who face challenges of limited access to resources, healthcare, education, training, employment and economic opportunities.

As the world confronts many, often overlapping, crises, including financial and other socio-economic challenges, investing in and partnering with youth is key to finding sustainable solutions.

By adopting resolution 64/134 proclaiming the Year, UN Member States confirmed the importance the international community places on integrating youth-related issues into global, regional, and national development agendas. To guide its efforts during the Year, the UN is focusing on three overarching objectives: (1) Increasing commitment and investment in youth; (2) Increasing youth participation and partnerships and (3) Increasing intercultural understanding among youth.

In 1985, the UN celebrated the first International Year of Youth. On its tenth anniversary, the General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth, setting a policy framework and guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people.

Today, the World Programme of Action for Youth plays a prominent role in youth development. It focuses on strengthening national capacities in the field of youth and on increasing the quality and quantity of participation opportunities available to them.

The United Nations Programme on Youth, in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), serves as the UN focal point on youth. It undertakes a range of activities to promote youth development, including increasing the effectiveness of the Organization's work in youth development by strengthening collaboration and exchange among UN entities through the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development.

YOUth and youth-focused organizations are encouraged to initiate and participate in

activities celebrating the Year, by subscribing to the monthly e-newsletter of the UN, Youth Flash at www.un.org/youth, downloading advocacy materials from the official website at social.un.org/youthyear and by joining the monthly consultation on facebook.com/UNyouthyear.

For more information on the International Year of Youth, visit http://social.un.org/youthyear/. For substantive matters, please contact either Co-chair of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, Ms. Nicola Shepherd at +1 917 367 9282, email: [email protected] or Ms. Golda El-Khoury at +33 1 45 68 45 47, email: [email protected]

For interviews, contact the UN Department of Public Information through Elizabeth Scaffidi at +1 212 963 5834 or [email protected]