UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- In the lead-up to International Youth Day on Aug. 12, the United Nations (UN) kicked off a commemorative event at its New York headquarters Friday with a message from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscoring his commitment to young people.
"I'm truly happy to address you on International Youth Day," Guterres said in a video message. "As secretary-general of the United Nations, I am committed to the empowerment and inclusion of every young person around the world," he added.
"In this spirit, I have appointed an impressive new Youth Envoy," he said, introducing 26-year-old Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka as the youngest and "one of the most important" members of his team.
"Governments must work with young people to successfully achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Empowered young men and women can play a critical role in preventing conflicts and ensuring sustainable peace," the UN chief added.
After the youth envoy invited everyone to join in mobilizing young people, Guterres said, "Together, we can create a peaceful world for generations to come."
Against the backdrop that many of the world's 1.2 billion young people are affected by the hardship of conflict and war, the 2017 edition of the International Youth Day will be celebrated under the theme "Youth Building Peace."
Considering matters of youth, peace and security from a social developmental perspective, this year the day recognizes that more societies around the world are recognizing the role of youth as agents of change and critical actors in preventing conflict and building peace.
Organized by the UN Division for Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development, Friday's event drew together experts from youth organizations, government and the UN to explore the various ways in which young people are contributing to building and sustaining peace.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, on her first official trip, the secretary-general's new youth envoy is carrying out dialogue with young people and meeting with UN officials.
In December 1999, the UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that Aug. 12 be declared International Youth Day.
International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people's contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.