Dynamism of Young People Cited as a Cause for Optimism in a World of 7 Billion

14 September 2011
Author: UNFPA
With the world's population projected to top 7 billion next month, the United Nations launched the 7 Billion Actions global initiative-bringing together governments,businesses , the media and individuals to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the milestone. Photo :UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

UNITED NATIONS – Participants at the launch of the 7 Billion Actions campaign here today cited the dynamism of young people, especially when connected through social media, as a cause for optimism in the face of the challenges posed by a world of seven billion people.

As if to bolster that message, huge screens capturing tweets, many of them from young people, flanked the panel, which included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

“Young people not just leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today,” tweeted one young person, paraphrasing the Secretary-General, who mentioned  the Arab Spring as a clear demonstration of youth leadership in action.

“The development agenda has to deal with young people,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said. “The world will soon have seven billion people, of which 1.8 billion are young people, and 90 per cent of them live in developing countries.”

The panel discussion followed a special event in Washington, D.C. highlighting the importance of investing in women and girls as a cost-effective way to address the challenges of a world in a world of seven billion.

Moderated by international television host Riz Khan, the panel featured representatives of the UN Member States, the private sector and civil society. It included Carsten Staur, permanent representative of Denmark to the United Nations; Imane Khachani, a youth leader from Morocco; Naveen Salvadurai, a new media innovator and co-founder of Foursquare, and Sheri S. McCoy, vice chairman of Johnson & Johnson, in addition to the UN Secretary-General and UNFPA Executive Director. 

“We have great opportunities for progress but also great obstacles,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling the 7 Billion Actions campaign “a clarion call to people, communities, countries and our partners: non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, academics and faith leaders.”

Dr. Osotimehin called on governments to show sound leadership in fostering research and technology to improve society, while underscoring the importance of addressing youth issues in a world of 7 billion.

Ms. McCoy, of Johnson & Johnson, discussed the important role that technological innovation in healthcare will play in a world of 7 billion, while Mr. Selvadurai spoke of how new media technology is “democratizing information”, thereby creating an unprecedented opportunity to build greater communities and share ideas across borders. “Technology decreases the time it takes to learn something new,” he said.

Among other topics discussed were poverty and inequality, human rights abuses, violence against women, maternal death, climate change and pressure on natural resources.

Panelists stressed the fact that many incremental individual actions can collectively transform our world. “This campaign speaks to everybody in every part of the world,” said Dr. Osotimehin.

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