Nordic Statement by H.E Jörundur Valtýsson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Consultations on Chapter 4 of the Pact for the Future
11 December 2023
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.
In today’s landscape of multiple crises and challenges, it is more important than ever that our responses not only meet the demands of the present but also safeguard the interests of children, young persons, and generations yet to come.
The Nordics thank the co-facilitators for convening these consultations and would like to highlight five main points:
First, we would like to emphasize the importance of inclusivity by expanding and strengthening youth participation in decision-making processes. This is key when it comes to identifying the best solutions and driving innovative and transformative change.
Furthermore, real inclusivity means creating a space for full, effective, and meaningful participation. All efforts should be made to ensure that a diversity of voices is heard. Decision-making processes should therefore be made accessible to all young persons, including those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
We welcome the newly established UN Youth Office and the appointment of the first Assistant Secretary General for Youth Affairs. This is an important milestone in the advancement of youth issues across the United Nations, building on the work of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.
We encourage the UN to continue to strengthen youth engagement in its organs and related mechanisms and processes. The Nordics support the establishment of a standing United Nations Youth Townhall and the development of an integrated programme of work by the United Nations system to facilitate more meaningful youth participation at all levels.
Second, young people are important actors in strengthening peace and security. Recognizing this, we support proposals to review the working methods of the Security Council and its relevant subsidiary bodies to significantly strengthen youth engagement in its work. We need to create space where the perspectives, experiences, and innovative solutions of young people are genuinely integrated into the decision-making processes that shape our global security landscape.
The Pact for the Future needs to further operationalize the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda. This includes meaningful and effective engagement of young people, particularly young women in all their diversity, in policy discussions and programming, and a strengthened focus on protection of young mediators, peacebuilders and human rights defenders.
Third, for young people to thrive and fulfil their potential, we need to uphold their human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ensure inclusive policies that foster gender equality, health, education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Fourth, it is impossible to discuss the future without addressing the urgent issue of climate change. Young people and children all around the world are active agents in climate action and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the well-being of our planet. There should be a strong focus on supporting youth-led initiatives in this regard and we encourage enhanced youth engagement in all efforts to counter environmental threats and address the devastating impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
Which brings us to the fifth and final point, the importance of acting for future generations. This is a strategic investment in sustainable development, gender equality, and human rights. By integrating youth engagement into our policy making and programmes, we build a foundation for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.
The Sustainable Development Goals have a strong intergenerational relevance. We would like to see this reflected in chapter 4 and taken forward in the Declaration for Future Generations. This should be paired with a commitment to a long-term approach to safeguard the well-being and rights of future generations.
We must also work towards multilateral solutions for the safe development of emerging technologies and digital cooperation, including artificial intelligence. Advances in science, humanities, and technology present opportunities and risks that will affect future generations. Moreover, access to quality education for all is a precondition for future generations to advance just and fair development.
The Nordics welcome the Secretary Generals proposal of appointing a Special Envoy for the Future Generations, this will be an important step to ensure concrete follow-up and operationalization of our commitment in a holistic manner.
In closure, we must use this process to lay the foundation for effective and meaningful youth engagement and do our utmost to preserve the ability of future generations to enjoy all human rights and freedoms. This is imperative for the Pact for the Future to truly live up to its name.