Press Release

UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Youth addresses young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia at the "Dialogue for the Future" Platform

27 April 2021

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Youth, address at the closing of the regional Dialogue for the Future Platform. 

Distinguished participants,

My name is Jayathma Wickramanayake and I am the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth.

I’m very pleased to join you for the closing session of this Regional Dialogue Platform of the Dialogue for the Future Programme. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers for creating this platform characterized by interactive dialogue.

I understand that this is the last such regional platform for this phase of Dialogue for the Future, and it is an inspiration to see so many young people connected from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia despite the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has made it clear to us all that responding to a crisis cannot be the responsibility of states alone. Nor should it be the responsibility of elders alone. Youth must have a critical role to play.

The impact of this pandemic has also made it clear to all of us that solidarity and cooperation between all actors such states, civil society, communities, and the private sector is an essential component for an effective response to crisis and building back better in recovery.

Therefore, I am pleased to see that these dialogue platforms of Dialogue for the Future have allowed young people and other vital community actors in this region to come together, jointly identify common priorities and develop citizen designed solutions. 

In 2018, the United Nations Secretary-General, stated clearly that he "believes in the power of young people”. Peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance, all these and more depend on tapping into the potential of youth.

This was also the year when in the UN-system wide Youth Strategy “Youth 2030 was launched.” The strategy creates a normative foundation where young people’s meaningful participation is both recognized and empowered while setting out five different thematic areas such as human rights, quality education, and peace and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to emerging challenges for young people such as lost jobs and education opportunities while accelerating inequalities and limiting young people’s participation in civic spaces.

Yet, despite these hurdles and obstacles, young people have been at the forefront of how we have responded, engaged and supported communities.  And, through platforms such as this one, youth are demanding and driving change.

Across the world, young peacebuilders like yourselves have delivered supplies to front-line health workers and mobilised as volunteers to assist people in need.

It is the youth that have led the way through innovative communication mechanisms characterized by new technologies.

Young people have mobilised and kept the pressure on issues from climate change to gender equality, and peacebuilding. Many of you have also taken steps to facilitate this in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.

Ensuring that youth are at the table is also essential to make sure that they are leading this recovery in the same way that they have led the response.

It is my pleasure therefore to address you, from civil society, academia, media, youth activist groups, from public administration and the private sector and to recognise the work you have done together over recent years, to identify common priorities and make joint recommendations through the Dialogue for the Future programme.

We have heard over the last two days, how you have worked to strengthen trust and sustain bonds between people and communities during the pandemic.  Due to the pandemic, you have also recognized the power and the importance of online connectivity and work.

The results you have achieved stand as a testament to what can be achieved when individuals from different backgrounds and countries come together; and when they are given the opportunity to work for the common good.

Your region has been characterised by a diverse history, ranging from conflict to peace, but it is in your hands to create the region’s journey going forward. This is both a great responsibility but also an opportunity, and the United Nations stands ready to support you with this mission.

As we look to recover better together from COVID-19 by strengthening peace, mutual understanding and trust, youth must not just be a target of action but a central part of the plan and decision-making

Thank you!

See the full two-day conference at:  


Communications Unit

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations

Goals we are supporting through this initiative