“We need our leaders to put on their big boy pants…”
Hilda Nakabuye, the founder of Fridays for Future Uganda pulled no punches at the virtual Unlock the Future event, co-hosted by the Next Generation Fellows to coincide with the 76th United Nations General Assembly.
Host Aishwarya Machani was joined by four of the Next Generation Fellows alongside political leaders and youth activists including: Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica; Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Professor Muhammad Yunus; and UNICEF goodwill ambassadors Pita Taufatofua and Muzoon Almellehan.
An audience of over 400 people from more than 40 countries heard a series of challenging and motivational perspectives, from speakers who were united in their conviction that the needs of young people and future generations must be at the top of the agenda for global leaders in the years ahead.
Three time Olympian Pita Taufatofua opened proceedings by cautioning those fighting for a better future that “there are going to be times where it’s going to be tough. Where it’s going to feel like it’s an uphill battle. I know that they’re going to be times where you’re going to meet resistance”.
During a discussion of how to unlock the future, Muzoon Almellehan struck a similar tone saying: “Despite all of this (young people) are doing their part and trying their best to fight these challenges.They raise their voices and they don’t give up.”
After the opening segments, the audience was given an inside take on a conversation held between the President of Costa Rica, the Prime Minister of Sweden, and another group of young activists who were able to put across the viewpoints of a younger generation.
The perspectives of other generations also featured in the event with Professor Muhammad Yunus sharing lessons from his own activism over several decades, telling young people that “new destinations need new roads”.The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathama Wickramanyake shared her top tips for young people looking to advocate for change on the back of the publication of Our Common Agenda, encouraging them “not to wait” before taking action.
The event closed with the launch of the Unlock Declaration, which marked the coming together of over a dozen major youth-led and youth-focused organizations in a shared statement of intent for the years ahead. Secretary General of the YMCA, Carlos Sanvee shared the four guiding principles of the declaration, which promises to be a platform for advocacy and change that improves the lives of next and future generations in the years ahead.
The Unlock the Future event was supported by BRAC, the Global Youth Mobilization – an initiative powered by the Big Six youth organizations, Restless Development and the Youth Collective, the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum), the United Nations Foundation, and Girl Up.