Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES) Awards Ceremony of the SDGs Youth Essay Competition

Statement by the Acting RC at the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES) Awards Ceremony of the SDGs Youth Essay Competition

I am delighted to join you for this important event to recognize in a very special way the contributions and efforts of young people towards the attainment of the SDGs.  Thank you very much for the invitation. I am pleased to learn about how engaging this competition has been between organisers and participants.

We are in the third year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our shared vision of humanity. The world, including Ghana, has galvanized the support of various stakeholders – media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), private sector, academia, development partners, the United Nations and youth groups – to achieve the SDGs.

Through the engagement with and seamless efforts of these various stakeholders, Ghana is making headway and is determined to make the SDGs a reality. The Voluntary National Review (VNR) report presented recently at the High-Level Political Forum in New York highlights progress made across the SDGs, and further efforts required in some areas.

Over the course of the implementation of the SDGs, it has been acknowledged that young people play a significant role in the implementation, monitoring and review of the global Goals, as well as in holding duty bearers accountable.

1.8 billion of the world’s population is young people between the ages of 10-24. Close to 90 per cent of this population lives in developing countries. Today’s young people are connected with each other more than before. They are vibrant and want to contribute to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress, inspiring political change and mobilizing actors to advance the SDGs. Indeed, young people can enable drastic change. 

With political commitment and adequate resources, young people have the potential to effectively transform our world.  For instance, your ability to harness the power of digital technology cannot be over-emphasized. Fortunately, Ghana has prioritized engagement with the youth to fully unleash their creativity and potential through targeted programmes. This clearly demonstrates the confidence we have in young people to make things happen.

I understand that your SDG Youth Action Campaign has reached a stunning number of 500,000 youth who learn, share and take action on the SDGs. This SDG Youth Essay Competition is also attracting more entries. Well done. You can indeed make an enormous difference by sharing your ideas, skills and knowledge. This can help redirect our development trajectory for a better world.

I congratulate the winners of this competition for your critical thoughts and your innovative solutions on how we can attain the SDGs. You hold the keys to openings doors of opportunities that can transform our world in a positive way. We are hopeful that your dreams and thoughts will not remain in this room or on paper, and that they will be utilized to achieve results.

I also congratulate all the contestants.  The mere fact that you entered this competition shows that you have a lot to share. You had an idea, and the power of an idea can be beneficial only when you share it. Like those who have won, your concept should not rest here. Take it beyond this level. 

The future of our world will depend on how much we do today to preserve what we have left. Most importantly, the future will be determined by how well prepared you all are to make this world a better place. Thank you again, and congratulations.


Speech by
Anne-Claire Dufay Demoulin
UNICEF Representative
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Fund for Agricultural Development
International Labor Organization
International Maritime Organization
International Organization for Migration
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office for Project Services
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
United Nations Capital Development Fund