Intergenerational Dialogue Highlights Youth, Older Persons’ Role in SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) President emphasized the need to ensure that the potential of both youth and older persons is not lost due to prejudicial attitudes, negative stereotypes and discriminatory practices.

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth called for new approaches that foster intergenerational collaboration in the workforce, in education, and in socioeconomic development.

1 August 2017: UN leaders, the Major Group on Children and Youth, the Stakeholder Group on Ageing, and other stakeholders discussed the role of youth and older persons in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during a one-day intergenerational dialogue.

The ‘Intergenerational Dialogues on the SDGs’ took place on 1 August 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the NGO/DPI Executive Committee co-hosted the event.

Opening the event, UN Secretary-General António Guterres (via video message) noted that the wisdom, experience, energy, and ideals of the old and the young are vital to realizing the 17 SDGs. Together, he stressed, both the old and the young can help break the cycles of poverty that have lasted for generations.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson emphasized that the 17 SDGs made an intergenerational promise “to build a world of peace, prosperity, and sustainability for all.” He observed that there are currently 1.8 billion youth and that by 2050 the proportion of people aged 60 years or older is expected, for the first time in history, to match that of those aged 15 years or younger. To achieve the SDGs, he said, there is a need to harness both the energy and the ingenuity of the youth and the knowledge and experience of the old.

Thomson called for ensuring that these generations’ potential is not lost due to prejudicial attitudes, negative stereotypes and discriminatory practices. Instead, he suggested empowering them with the education, training, opportunity, and platforms they need to serve as agents for change. The UNGA President further invited youth and older persons to serve as: educators who share knowledge on the importance of the SDGs with others; motivators and examples of sustainable living for their family, friends and communities; and active citizens who demand urgent and responsible change from those around them.

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth described the importance of building mutually empowering relationships between generations in achieving the SDGs.

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, underscored that building mutually empowering relationships between generations is one of the most important factors in achieving the SDGs. Noting that generations do not operate as a binary, she stressed solidarity across generations as key for social development. Wickramanayake explained that such solidarity requires new approaches in the workforce, in education, and in socioeconomic development. [UN Press Release][UNGA President Remarks][UN Secretary-General Video Message][Event Website]

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