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NSHSS at the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations


Monday, March 14, 2016

NSHSS at the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations

“The Earth is a school and we humans are here to learn life's lessons.” – Claes Nobel, speaking at the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations.

On February 17-18, NSHSS Partner Friendship Ambassador Foundation hosted its bi-annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations. Approximately 600 young leaders from 70 countries, including NSHSS members Raina Kadavil, Maria Puglielli, Claire Gupta, Nala Bailey and Aisvarya Addanki – and 15 others – gathered at the United Nations Headquarters to tackle the role of youth during a crucial year in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), more formally known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The theme of the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations was “Transforming Our World: The Role of Youth in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.” The event was split up into plenary sessions and interactive workshops that addressed where youth stand in the SDGs–with emphasis on social ventures and innovation–amidst challenges they face such as unemployment, education, health, poverty, among many others.

Claes Nobel, Co-founder of NSHSS and senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes, shared a bit of his dynamite medicine with the attendees during his keynote speech. Keeping in line with the theme of the event, Mr. Nobel stressed the importance of tapping into the power of youth to change the world. He said, “The old ways of thinking are destroying us. We must tap into new powers for world transformation.” He then led the crowd in rousing cheer as he exclaimed, “Let’s change the world together!”

Other notable speakers at the event include H.E. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UN Office in Belgrade, ECOSOC President H.E. Mr. Oh Joon, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN, and Madame Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director. UN Secretary-General H.E. Ban Ki-moon communicated his message to participants through Dr. David Nabarro, his special advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “I count on young people to hold their leaders accountable for the promises they have made. I also count on your engagement as we embark on implementing our global, universal, and sustainable development agenda.”

During the closing session, the two lead endorsers of the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly also delivered their official remarks. Permanent Representative of the Republic of Serbia to the UN, H.E. Mr. Milan Milanović, emphasized, “This year is crucial for the implementation of the new set of sustainable development goals that will determine the development metrics of the world that belongs to you, the young generation.” Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the UN, H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, added, “Our youth can indeed play a crucial role to help drive the process. Indeed what set the SDGs apart from the Millennium Development Goals or the MDGs, is the importance of inclusive partnership in achieving the goals. This process, places you, youth and civil society organizations, as important partners of governments.”

Before the end of the closing session, the most promising social ventures and outstanding delegates were awarded in a short ceremony. Three social venture proposals by Youth Assembly delegates won the Resolution Social Venture Challenge by The Resolution Project (also an NSHSS Partner), which provides hands-on mentorship, seed funding, and access to world-class global advisory resources. Five Youth Assembly delegates were also awarded as Outstanding Youth based on their applications and participation during the two-day conference.