Each year, International Youth Day (IYD) is assigned a theme; a conceptual slogan that communicates the scope, direction, and objectives of the year’s youth initiatives and also provides a unifying banner from under which individuals can draw the inspiration to take action. As you know, this year’s International Youth Day will represent the culmination of the International Year of Youth (IYY) - designated by the United Nations to comprise the 12 month period between IYD 2010 and IYD 2011 - and the 25th Anniversary of the first International Year of Youth. As such, “Change Our World” has been chosen as the theme for IYD 2011 as it not only expresses the level of impact that young people strive to achieve, but also reflects the notion of a global community that is a core principle of the United Nations.
“Change Our World” is meant to be a call to inspire youth initiatives at all levels with the idea that efforts at the local level can have a global impact. Youth are well attuned to modern forms of communication that have the capacity to connect people from all over the world with ease, and at an unprecedented speed. UNPY encourages the use of social media & networking tools as platforms for raising awareness and promoting activities, empowering youth, and enabling them to quite literally change our world.
It should be stressed that “Change Our World” is a call for continual, long lasting progress in areas of societal development that concern youth. Therefore, while the support of the private sector, governments, and civil society organisations is important, what’s most necessary is that young people be actively involved and that they claim ownership of this positive effort.
Celebrate International Youth Day by participating in the Change Your World 2011 contest: find out more on Facebook.
Secretary-General's Message for 2011
“Change Our World” is more than the theme of this year’s International Youth Day; it is an injunction that should inspire young people at all times.
Far too many of the world’s more than one billion young people lack the education, freedom and opportunities they deserve. Yet despite these constraints – and in some cases because of them – young people are mobilizing in growing numbers to build a better future. Over the past year, they have achieved stunning results, overturning dictatorships and sending waves of hope across regions and around the world.
Young people are gifted with open minds and a keen awareness of emerging trends, and are bringing their energy, ideas and courage to some of the most complex and important challenges facing the human family. They often understand better than older generations that we can transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals. They are standing up for the rights of oppressed peoples, including those who suffer discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation. They are confronting sensitive issues in order to stop the spread of HIV. And they are often the leading proponents of sustainability and green life-styles.
The international community must continue to work together to expand the horizons of opportunity for these young women and men and answer their legitimate demands for dignity, development and decent work. Failing to invest in our youth is a false economy. Investments in young people will pay great dividends in a better future for all.
This Day marks the end of the International Year of Youth, a milestone in global advocacy by and for the world’s young people. My hope is that this experience will now provide a foundation to go even further in harnessing the talents and energies of young people. To them I say: you have the opportunity to change our world. Seize it.