International Youth Day 2021: History, Theme And UN Secretary-General’s Message

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka 

August 12 is observed as International Youth Day every year – a day when citizens and governments across the globe join hands to recognise and address the problems our youth face today.  

The United Nations decided in 1999 that this day would be commemorated on August 12 every year. The decision was made following a recommendation by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon to the UN General Assembly. On this day, the world holds several events, including awareness campaigns and community concerts, to bring to the fore and address the various socio-economic and socio-political issues that the youth face in every country across the world. 

What is the theme for International Youth Day 2021? 

“Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.” – Francis Bacon

A theme is decided by the United Nations every year — something that revolves around and is relevant to citizens and communities worldwide. The theme is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” this year.  

The United Nations says that the theme for 2021 highlights the immediate and significant need for “inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems.” Other issues that will be addressed along with this are climate change, healthcare, social inclusion, and conservation of biodiversity. 

What is UN Secretary-General António Guterres saying? 

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” – Mary McLeod Bethune

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the youth was on the “frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all”. He said in a video message that this year’s International Youth Day would be on “solutions developed by young innovators to address challenges to our food systems”. 

Guterres further said that “young people cannot do it on their own. They need allies to make sure they are engaged, included and understood”, adding, “to guarantee young people a seat at the table as we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all”.  

“That’s where the future lies, in the youth of today.” – Willie Stargell  

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