Delegate: Ms. Coupart
Ms. Poupart (Canada) (interpretation from French): On the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year, I have the privilege and pleasure to share with the General Assembly some of Canada’s perspectives and policies on youth issues. Since International Youth Year, 10 years ago, we have witnessed significant progress. More children now [*4*] survive to become healthy adults: we have halved the rate of infant mortality, and we are on the verge of eradicating some of the diseases that most threaten children’s health.
Nonetheless, young people face challenges that did not exist 10 years ago. The world’s population is currently growing by about 90 million annually, and between 1995 and 2015 approximately 1.847 billion additional children and young people will be added to the population of the Earth. This means there will be a dizzying increase in the number of young people in need of education, training, jobs and a future.
On top of that, we are living in a period of dramatic transformation in the world of work. Young people today are being called upon to adapt more rapidly than ever before to changes on political, economic and social fronts. Change has become our collective constant. This reality puts enormous pressure on young people the world over, who are expected to prepare for a future that even futurists are unable to foresee.
Canada considers that the international community must do more to respond to the needs of youth, particularly their special needs in making the transition from school to work. We must pay more attention to education and training for those who will be entering the work force in the next 20 to 30 years.
The Rio Conference on Environment and Development, the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, the Cairo Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Conference on Women all addressed very serious issues facing youth. In the coordinated follow-up to those Conferences, neither Governments nor the United Nations must forget the importance we attach to issues affecting young people. My country hopes that the Commission for Social Development will continue to play a key role in this regard and that it will provide a forum for addressing youth issues, that it will further the study of the situation of the young and, above all, that it will collect, synthesize and refine societal indicators of their situation.
(spoke in English)
Young people are the world’s finest resource. We bring to life and to work ideas and energy, innovation and hope, dreams and ambitions. Countries, supported by the international community, must create an enabling environment in which we may meet our potential and participate in our countries’ development. In particular there is a need to focus on the many barriers to full equality faced by young women.
If our hopes and dreams are betrayed, then we may see significant increases in poverty, unemployment and marginalization among the young, problems that can result in crime, substance abuse and domestic instability. We also recognize that far too many young people today die in wars or suffer as refugees or displaced persons.
In Canada, we recognize a responsibility to help guide young people through these turbulent times. But we realize that this is not something government can do alone. We are firm believers in the power of partnerships, convinced that it takes the commitment and cooperation of parents, educators, employers and young people to meet the challenge.
In Canada, our vision stems from the simple but profound philosophy that everyone should have safe homes and safe streets, full employment opportunities, and fair and equitable treatment at home, at school and on the job.
Canada believes it is essential that young people be able to become participants and contributors to society. In Canada we help equip young people with skills, and help open the doors to free and full participation by young people in our country’s future.
(spoke in French)
The Government of Canada has initiated policies and instituted a series of youth initiatives aimed at empowering young Canadians to discover their own potential to be part of the solution, so they can face the future with confidence. Before establishing these programmes, the Government consulted extensively with youth. Based on that input, the Government developed its Youth Employment and Learning Strategy. Its main components include Youth Service Canada, Youth Internship Canada, Student Summer Job Action and the Canada Student Loans Programme.
We are also proud of our efforts to help youth at the international level. Canada initiated the World Youth Leadership Training Summit, held here at the United Nations last summer. That summit provided youth from around the world the chance to come together and to focus, as agents of change, on their responsibilities and goals. In this context, we will welcome enthusiastically [*5*] new initiatives on youth within the United Nations system and on the part of the relevant institutions.
Canada endeavors to offer meaningful educational and work opportunities to young people so that they may contribute to the workplace, the community, our country and soon, we hope, to the United Nations. By engaging Canada’s young people in learning and work experiences, we are forming solid citizens who will be able to work for our country’s — and this planet’s — future. We are developing the workforce necessary to meet the challenges of a global economy, and producing the next generation of national and international leaders, parents and citizens. At the root of that revolution are teenagers and young adults who are turning the tide, working for a better tomorrow.
This celebration of the world’s youth is confirmation the revolution has begun. Building on this momentum —person by person, country by country — we will undoubtedly recreate our global community in a way that not only mirrors our own dreams and hopes, but achieves our vision for our youth and our future.
UN Doc.: A/50/PV.43