The theme of this year’s International Youth Day, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, highlights the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is strengthening national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be enhanced. International Youth Day was designated by the United Nations (UN) in the year 1999, in an attempt to raise awareness regarding the cultural and legal issue concerning youth. The first IYD was observed on 12 August 2000 and has been observed annually ever since. In 1999, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation, made the ‘World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth’, and subsequently International Youth Day came to be celebrated annually.
This day is meant to signify and highlight the importance of young people, not just as a future generation, but also as the current driving force of change in the world. Various activities like concerts, workshops, cultural events and meetings are organised to engage the youth and in order to bring their voices, actions, and initiatives to the mainstream.
Each year, the observance of International Youth Day is marked with a theme, relevant to the times. The theme for 2020 is ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’, and this has never been of more significance, than during the current conditions. The theme seeks to shed light on “the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes.” It highlights the importance of the influence that youth can have over where the future is headed and how their political and social involvement can aid in creating better, more sustainable policies for the world as a whole.
As the United Nations turns 75, and with only 10 years remaining to make the 2030 Agenda a reality for all, trust in public institutions is eroding. The world is facing many national, regional as well as global challenges, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, desert locust invasions, hunger and climate change. COVID-19 affects all segments of the population, with young people playing a key role in the management of this outbreak and the recovery following the outbreak. RCMRD celebrates and recognizes the contributions of youth around the world, particularly during these difficult times of COVID-19.