Live from Baku

Salam from Azerbaijan! The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of national and international activities seeking to promote the work of the United Nations at home and abroad.

Together we celebrated the United Nations on October 24th. This U.N. Day I found myself in Boulder, Colorado, highlighting the importance of youth policy in an era with the largest ever generation of young people. Here are some facts to remember:

• One in two people is under the age of 30.

• 500 million youth live on less than $2 per day

• 70% of young individuals in the global south do not have internet access.

• Individuals ages 15-24 comprise 45% of all new HIV infections.

• In North & sub-Saharan Africa, 70% of the population is under 30.

• 75 million youth worldwide remain unemployed.

• 1 billion jobs are needed to accommodate new workers.

I was also honored to sit with makers of the film ARISE at Metropolitan State University in Denver. The skillfully crafted ARISE highlights the universal nature of topics at the U.N. For example, gender equality is intricately linked to universal education, which touches sustainable development. Everything is interwoven and connected—both a challenge and an opportunity to tackle multiple issues with limited resources.

The auspices of youth policy took me to Baku, Azerbaijan, where I attended the First Global Forum on Youth Policy. In Azerbaijan, I spent three days discussing youth policy with impassioned individuals from across the world in plenary and region-specific sessions. Your concerns regarding financial security, climate change, and gender equality traveled with me and were shared with participants from over 160 countries. Here’s a hint: We all shared similar concerns.

Youth power can transcend boundaries, with an example no more powerful than the Arab Spring movement. With a collective conscience, we must utilize this power to catalyze change at the local and national scale.

As a global community, we continue to face an acute health crisis in West Africa, a security crisis in Ukraine, and a global economy struggling to recover from recent “downturns.” Regardless of our intentions, we must remember that “the right to criticize is earned by the willingness to engage.” Today I challenge you to engage with society on a new front to tackle the evolving problems of today. Today I challenge you to be BAKU:

B: Be present, be engaged.

A: Act. Take action on the causes that matter.

K: Know. Know where to find aid and seek assistance.

U: Unite for shared momentum in tackling global challenges!

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Bonjour de Genève!