International Youth Day “Youth and climate change: time for action”

Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director

12 August 2008



On International Youth Day, let us recognize the potential of youth in tackling the greatest challenges of our times.


From eliminating extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV, young people are a dynamic force for positive change. They can contribute to the world’s efforts to overcome the threat of climate change, one of the defining challenges of our time.


The variations in rainfall, changes in temperature and extreme weather events brought on by climate change will transform the world we live in. The most vulnerable are the poor because of their limited resources to adapt to a changing environment.


Today, about a quarter of all people on Earth are between the ages of 10 and 25. With adequate knowledge and skills, this generation can become a strong advocate for sustainable development and the preservation of natural resources. They can engage their communities to find solutions to reduce the impacts of climate change. They can ensure that we meet the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


Young people must be involved in the development and implementation of plans, policies and programmes impacting the environment. UNFPA is committed to partnerships between youth and adults and promoting inter-generational dialogue and cooperation.


Today, on International Youth Day, I call on leaders to fully engage young people in the response to climate change. And I call on young people to work with older generations, so that together we can take action to improve the present and secure a healthy future for generations to come.