Opening Session

Jolly Amatya

Youth Chair of the 2016 Summer Youth Assembly

A former youth delegate three years ago, Jolly Amatya served as the Youth Chair of the 2016 Summer Youth Assembly. In her brief speech, she urged the youth delegates to rise to the challenges faced by the young generation and encouraged them to join forces with the United Nations to take action for a better world.

David Hill

Director & Treasurer of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation

In his welcome address, David Hill recognized the importance of youth in the development process as they will be leading the world in the future. He said that while he believes that the youth delegates are already passionate and informed, he was positive the Youth Assembly would bring them a valuable experience and would help them become more energized and more prepared to engage the world.

Yin-Chu Jou

Chair of the 2016 Youth Assembly

In her welcome speech, Yin-Chu Jou emphasized the main purpose of bringing every one together for the Youth Assembly. She went on further by saying, “we are driven by the common passion of building the future we want, a future that leaves no one behind.” Echoing the United Nations Secretary-General’s words, Ms. Jou reminded them of their greatest role: they could be the first generation in the history of the world that can eradicate poverty and also the last generation that can reverse climate change.

H.E. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu

Honorary Chair of the 2016 Youth Assembly / Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UN Office in Belgrade

In a profoundly inspiring welcome statement, H.E. Simona-Mirela Miculescu underlined the impact that today’s young people are making as they are a part of the largest youth generation and are primary agents of change. In addition, Her Excellency stated that truly inclusive societies cannot exist without the full participation of youth: “You as students, workers, consumers, innovators, peace builders and voter can make a huge difference.”

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H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft

President of the 70th session of the General Assembly

In a video message, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft noted that with the largest youth population ever, 1.2 billion youth are often in the front lines of the world’s challenges. Over 73 million young people are unemployed globally, with young women more likely to be underemployed and underpaid. On the other hand, 90 percent of all casualties in direct conflicts occur among young adult males. As young people face these challenges in their daily lives, His Excellency indicated that they are also best placed to address them. “This is the mission of the Youth Assembly and why you are here today,” he noted, “to empower youth to achieve sustainable development on the individual, local and global levels.” 

H.E. Mr. Oh Joon

Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN

In his welcome address, H.E. Oh Joon called on youth to help the global community achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. His Excellency stated that in tackling the most pressing challenges, including inequality, climate change, terrorism, unemployment and the refugee crisis, innovative ideas are needed to make breakthroughs. He encouraged young people to think outside the box as they are best poised to exercise the power of imagination. His Excellency also implored young people, the leaders of tomorrow, to continue to make their voices heard. He said that youth can contribute to developing global citizenship, and in this regard, they should leave no one behind, regardless of their gender, nationality, ethnicity or religion.

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H.E. Ms. Chulamanee Chartsuwan

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Thailand to the UN

H.E. Chulamanee Chartsuwan pointed that youth should not be shielded from all discussions at the United Nations and that youth delegates’ input are relevant and must be heard. Governments need to utilize this strong force of youth and help unlock their potential so that the SDGs can be realized in the year 2030. As critical agents of change, she said that young people should not wish for fewer problems but they should strive for more skills; they should not wish for less challenges but wish for more wisdom.

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David Nabarro on Behalf of

H.E. Mr. Ban-Ki Moon

United Nations Secretary-General

The United Nations Secretary-General conveyed his message to the youth delegates through his Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In his message, the Secretary-General emphasized the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a blueprint for the future of people and planet, as well as for peace and prosperity. He said that its success will depend on innovative and dynamic partnerships and active engagement of all sectors of society. In this regard, he said that young people are the most important actors to be engaged because they are the leaders of tomorrow – the mothers and fathers, the teachers, and entrepreneurs. He went further by encouraging young people to always be active and participative in responding to policies defined by their leaders because they have a voice and a critical role in shaping and implementing those policies.

Dr. David Nabarro

Special Adviser on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Dr. David Nabarro shared a personal narrative of his journey from being a young medical doctor to being an active agent of change in his capacity as a Special Adviser at the United Nations. Dr. Nabarro said he was able to use his expertise as a young doctor to work on underlying causes of underdevelopment, war, and migration as global issues. Setting this as an example, he believes that everyone has an opportunity to be an agent of transformative change by using their individual skills through teaming up with others, listening to people, and participating in global organizations, such as the United Nations.

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Krishanti Vignarajah

Policy Director, Office of the First Lady, The White House

Krishanti Vignarajah leads the Let Girls Learn, an initiative that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched in 2015. With a focus on adolescent girl’s education, she called on youth to take action. She said that the youth delegates “are a positive proof that when young people lead and succeed and then reinvest to ensure other girls and boys have similar opportunities,” they transform the lives of not just a generation but the world’s future. Echoing the Youth Assembly’s rationale, she said that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but of today.

Cheri Kaufman

Founding Partner, Kaufman Astoria Studios

New York philanthropist Cheri Kaufman said, “You have come here from all points of the compass and nearly every continent, to be with others who share your global idealism, your empathy for your fellow humans, and your determination to make a difference.” In her special remarks, she continued by saying that youth are going to change the world with new products, new ways of thinking, and an amazing sense of themselves, their peers and global contemporaries. Expressing her optimism in the potential and capacity of the young generation, Ms. Kaufman advised the youth delegates that since each one of them is a resource for others, they should take strength from each other.