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Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on International Youth Day 12 August.

From their communities to their capital cities, young people everywhere are demanding their rights, as affirmed 25 years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. In the decades since, we at UNFPA have accompanied countless young people on the journey from adolescence to adulthood.


To reaffirm our commitment to helping young people realize their full potential in life, we are unveiling today a new youth strategy, My Body, My Life, My World! It places their needs, aspirations and ideals at the core of our work to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ICPD agenda by 2030.


The My Body, My Life, My World! strategy is grounded in what we have learned about young people from young people in decades of programming with and for them. Co-created with thousands of youth activists and advocates around the globe, it is aligned with Youth 2030, the broader United Nations efforts to protect the health and rights of young people and empower them to shape their own futures and participate in the development of their countries.


Equipped with the right information and preparation, the world’s young people have the potential to lead positive change in the world. That potential can only be realized if they are healthy, educated and have control over their bodies and lives. We at UNFPA are working together with governments, civil society and development partners and, above all, with young people themselves to ensure that they have the knowledge and power to make informed choices and to participate as active citizens. 


At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, governments agreed to meet the special needs of adolescents and youth, especially young women, for access to education, health, counselling and high-quality reproductive health services. This promise was kept for some, but not for all.


This November, UNFPA, Denmark and Kenya will convene the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, where heads of state and other top government officials will seize the opportunity to recommit to realizing the ICPD vision of a world where everyone—including young people—has access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Young people will be front and center at the Summit, sharing their hopes and perspectives and contributing their ideas, their leadership, their energy and creativity under the banner of My Body, My Life, My World!


On this International Youth Day, I call on governments everywhere to keep the promises they made to women and young people 25 years ago. Join us on the march to Nairobi! Together, we can finally make rights and choices a reality for all young people.