Message from the Director General

Celebrating the International Year of Youth: ‘Promoting Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’

Kathmandu, 12 August 2011

Today we celebrate International Youth Day – but also the culmination of a full year devoted to involving young people as active partners in development. In 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/134 proclaiming the International Year of Youth from 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011 with the theme ‘Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’. The aim has been to reach across generations, cultures, religions and civilisations and promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights, and solidarity. 

The present world faces many, often overlapping, challenges which threaten the environment, social stability, economic progress, and overall attempts to secure sustainable development. We all – young and old – have a role in combating these challenges. ICIMOD’s role is an enabling one: to help people in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region explore and use their potential to help their communities prosper. In recent years we have been implementing a number of activities dedicated to youth and children in Asia and the Pacific, and particularly in our eight member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan 

Our activities have helped youth build their knowledge and skills, find their voices, and share their ideas widely through ICIMOD and partner networks – both through online and offline means. We have provided a common and neutral platform for youth to discuss issues related to mountain development and climate change adaptation. We have enabled young people to attend international events on these topics, and most importantly we have helped them to form strong geographic and thematic groups and networks to advocate the mountain agenda and climate change adaptation at different scales. 
ICIMOD has organised several special activities during the International Year of Youth, most notably: 
  • a Workshop on Creating a Sustainable Network of Climate Change Champions (September 2010), as a part of a British Council supported programme which empowered 34 Climate Champions from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan;
  • a Youth Forum on Empowering Youth with Earth Observation Information for Climate Actions, attended by 40 young people from our regional member countries (October 2010); 
  • a South and Central Asia regional virtual consultation on youth perspectives on Rio+20 (May 2011);
  • publication of two issues of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier dedicated to youth and climate change (November 2010 and June 2011);
  • posting of dedicated articles on youth and conservation by our staff and our partners. 

Finally, we conclude the Year with another Asia-Pacific Youth Forum, on Climate Actions and Mountain Issues, which started on Monday and concludes today. More than 42 young people representing 17 countries have participated in this five-day forum, which has provided good inputs for our preparations for the upcoming 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa (28 November – 9 December 2011) and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (perhaps better known as Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (4–6 June 2012).

We feel that we have made a significant contribution towards achieving the objectives of the International Year of Youth and have helped to establish a youth context in the mountain development debate. These activities have directly involved more than 1,000 young people and benefited many others. During this period we significantly improved our presence in social networks which are regularly visited by thousands of our young friends. In this way we hope to prepare them to meet the multiple challenges they will face in their lives as leaders, scientists, educators, and citizens.

Best wishes to all on this special day,

Director General