12 August 2004
Almost half the world's population are people younger than 25 who need investment in education and training now as they prepare to take care of both their children and their parents, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan said today in a message to mark the fifth International Youth Day.
"Two decades from now, these same people will form the middle generation that supports ever increasing numbers of dependents: not only their children, but their parents as well," he said. "They understand the importance of fulfilling this responsibility, but they will be able to do so only if we invest now and ensure they have the knowledge and skills to take advantage of the opportunities opening up to them."
By 2050, the number of people aged 60 and over would have tripled to nearly 1.9 billion, Mr. Annan noted. "In most societies, older persons continue to contribute actively, yet the dependence between generations will grow ever larger. The ageing of our world is an issue for young people, too."
Next year the UN General Assembly would address the question of population aging during its 10-year review of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (WPAY), adopted in 1995, he said.
The theme of this year's Day is "Youth in an Intergenerational Society." It also marks the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
The UN's World Youth Report 2003, issued earlier this year, cited statistics for 2000 saying 22.5 per cent of the nearly 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 worldwide were living on less than $1 a day. About 133 million of them were illiterate, up to 110 million were estimated to be malnourished and up to 7,000 became infected with HIV daily.
At UN Headquarters in New York, youth representatives from New York City schools attended and performed at a concert organized by the UN Programme on Youth, in cooperation with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and Con Edison, the utility company.
In Portugal's capital, Lisbon, the UN's World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth ended a five-day conference, while Barcelona, Spain, hosted the weeklong Third World Youth Festival, which was to end on Saturday.
Countries notifying the UN of their national celebrations included Cameroon, Canada, Mauritania, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.