Director-General opens plenary session of the fifth UNESCO Youth Forum

Director-General opens plenary session of the fifth UNESCO Youth Forum
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened on 12 October, at Paris Headquarters, the plenary session of the fifth UNESCO Youth Forum, in the presence of 228 delegates from 140 countries, as well as some 118 observers from non-governmental organizations and youth-related governmental bodies.

“The UNESCO Youth Forum is an opportunity for young people from all over the world to exchange views, share experiences and reflect together on the major issues of our time (…). After all, it is you, the world’s youth, who must live with the consequences of the decisions we take today. You have a right to make your voices heard. And we have a duty to listen,” stated Mr Matsuura in his introductory remarks.

Addressing the role of education in the drive to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth, Mr Matsuura called upon the participants to provide decision-makers with new ideas and fresh approaches, in order for them to make education more relevant to learner needs: “Education has tremendous potential as a force for economic development. Yet this potential is wasted, not only because millions of children, young people and adults lack access to learning opportunities, but also because the education available is not of good quality. Too many people leave school without the basic skills they need to participate fully in their societies and achieve gainful employment. Too many classrooms ignore the fundamental values upon which peace and human security depend, the values of tolerance and respect, both toward each other and toward the world in which we live,” he emphasized.

Turning to the role of science and technology in sustainable development, the Director-General underlined the need to help countries build capacity to respond to development challenges, from poverty reduction to environmental threats such as climate change: “Too many are denied access to the benefits science and technology can bring. This is in part through want of financial investment and institutional capacity. It is also a question of human resources: it is about countries – in particular developing countries – training and retaining a critical mass of scientific professionals that are capable of addressing local development needs,” he added.

“UNESCO wants to hear your point of view. We are counting on your vision, energy and commitment to devise new ways to achieve our common goal of sustainable human development. This Forum is your entry point. It is your opportunity to make a tangible contribution; it is your chance to make a difference,” concluded Mr Matsuura.

Since its first edition in 1999, the UNESCO Youth Forum has evolved into a major resource for the Organization. In 2003, the Forum was institutionalized as a permanent feature of the General Conference, UNESCO’s highest decision-making body. Participants to this 2007 Forum will work on the themes of the two Ministerial Roundtables, scheduled during the 34th session of the General Conference: “Education and economic development” and “Science and technology for sustainable development and the role of UNESCO.” In addition, they will examine the results and recommendations from the series of Regional UNESCO Youth Forums, held between 2006 and 2007, on the theme of ‘Young People and the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples.’

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 132-2007
  • 12-10-2007
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