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First of all, thank you so much for the initiative and for the invitation. I was honoured to join also the Board this morning. I had the opportunity to express already there - but I want do it here - the true honour that it is for us, and for me personally, to be part of the Global Board of Generation Unlimited. And I would like also to thank you for the great cooperation we have with UNICEF in recent months, and always had.
I think that we have really shown that effective multilateralism works and partnership works. The difference we have made for the children of Syrian or Rohingya children through education is really something that proves that we are on the right track.
The UN General Assembly week is normally focussed on conflicts, crises - I think what we are doing here today is probably more important than even the work that we are doing on crisis and conflict, because investing in the younger generations is, for me, not just an investment in the future, it is an investment on today, on this world. Whenever they tell you that you are “future leaders” - no, you are the leaders of today.
And we need you to say not only the problems, but also the solutions. I am convinced that the power you have in your hands is that of indicating to the rest of the world, including the leaderships, those in power, those that have institutional responsibilities, what is needed to solve the problems you are facing, because with almost two billion people between 10 and 24, you hold the keys to success. If the young people succeed, all the rest of the world is going to be ok. There is no other way to change the world for the better.
So it is not only an investment for tomorrow, it is an investment for today. And I see Generation Unlimited as an alliance for our time, not for the future - or not only for the future, but also for our time.
I am also grateful to the [UN] Secretary-General, António Guterres, for the new EU-UN Strategy and for resetting the UN focus on youth, using his own words. We on our side have put work with young people and not for young people at the centre of all our foreign policy activities and we have set up new channels for engaging with young people across the world, in different continents.
I personally do meetings with youth organisations and young activists all over the world to listen and to make sure that their ideas are incorporated in our policy making.
In particular, I would like to mention one thing before closing: we have put that at the centre of our new initiative with Africa, in particular focusing on job creation for young people in the most fragile areas in Africa.
We have announced just a few days ago a new project to have 100.000 African students benefiting from our Erasmus programme in the next 10 years. And we believe that this would lay the foundation for a big generational partnership between Europe and Africa. Also, we are planning to give vocational training to 750.000 young Africans by 2020. I think these are things that can make a difference.
It is a starting point. It is a drop in the ocean, considering the world population. But count on us for continuing on that way.
Thank you very much.