April 25, 10 :00 am
Your Excellency, Ms. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice President Heydar Aliyev Foundation
Your Excellency , Mr.Azad Rahimov, Minister of Youth and Sports
Dear youth participants,
It is my greatest pleasure to be with you today as we come together in Baku to share our ideas and vision for inclusive societies.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Government of Azerbaijan for generously hosting us and in doing so, supporting us to provide another platform for young people to express their views.
The UNAOC 7th Global Forum is dedicated to “Living Together In Inclusive Societies and attaches great importance to the role of youth in meeting the challenge of, and progress towards, building diverse, inclusive and peaceful societies.
Dear youth participants, as you know, UNAOC activities are focused specifically on migration, education, media and youth. Our programming does not merely focus on promoting dialogue between cultures and communities, but rather emphasize concrete action-oriented steps that enhance these pillars.
Youth and media are particularly key actors in moving forward to the goal of inclusive societies. And without you, we would not be able to achieve our objectives.
This ceremony marks an occasion for us to welcome you to the UNAOC family.
In opening this event, we also highlight something we deeply believe in at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations: the strength of young people and their ability to transform our world for the better. For the Alliance, inclusive societies cannot exist without the full participation of youth.
The Youth Event is just one of many youth-focused activities and programming that we offer. These are built on the principle that young people are the primary agents of change – not just in the future – but in our present as well.
Through our Fellowship program, we sponsor every year young people from the Middle East, Europe and North America to experience immersive visits in each other’s regions. This program enables participants to understand other cultures and traditions, to believe in the importance of living with the others and to encourage them to reject any type of violence. It empowers them to better fight xenophobia and the East-West divide as they go back to communities where they are emerging as leaders.
We also organize a video festival called Plural Plus, which celebrates young filmmakers who creatively address critical issues affecting our world. This youth video festival acts as an international platform that amplifies young people’s voices on migration, diversity and social inclusion.
Another important program of UNAOC is the Youth Solidarity Fund, which provides youth-led organizations with direct funding to implement outstanding projects promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue. This year, we funded projects in Africa and the Middle East, in areas affected by tensions, conflicts and violent extremism.
Established in 2008, the Fund responded to calls for action made by youth-led organizations around the world on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth. Today, the Fund is more relevant than ever: As the global agenda increasingly speaks of youth’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security, it is critical to support this participation and contribution through funding and partnership opportunities.
It’s an important year for the United Nations and the whole international community. We just adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a particular focus on youth, and set new goals for the World. For the first time in History, the Security Council Resolution recognizes the significant role that young people play in adapting to today’s global challenges, including those to peace and security. And with the signature of the Paris agreement last Friday, we made quite an important progress towards securing the continued abundance of the resources of the planet for present and future generations.
These frameworks are all on today’s agenda. As a community, we have to make sure that we empower young people and that they are part of the ongoing process of changing the world.
At the Alliance of Civilizations, we know from our experience of supporting youth-led initiatives and grassroots programs that peaceful and inclusive societies cannot be sustainably built without the participation and commitment of young people.
This is why we have decided, once again, to include you, young people, into the Forum discussions as key stakeholders.
You have been asked to develop Narratives of Tomorrow, in order to brainstorm and reflect on the Forum themes. I look forward to coming back later today to see how your narratives have been shaped and how they will bring new perspectives to the Forum discussions.
Dear friends, you have a busy day ahead of you and I am sure that you are eager to continue the work you started online.
In preparing for this Forum, you showed us your commitment to act as agents of change at local, regional, and international level. I wish to acknowledge the determination, motivation and intense engagement of all of you during the two months preceding this event, despite the challenges of working from different locations all over the globe.
As Einstein used to say “the only source of experience is knowledge”. Keep pushing yourselves. And remember: the magic always happens outside your comfort zone.
Dear friends, I wish you fruitful discussions and collaboration today.
As background info, the participants are working in 10 groups with the following themes: