The International Youth Day we left behind this year was very special, to both me and Henri, as UNYDs of Albania for this year. It was truly amazing to get together not just to celebrate the achievements of the past, both ours and the youth organizations as well, but also to have an opportunity to imagine our common future and set goals.

During the International Youth Day, as UNYDs, we had the chance to participate in various events, at a national and international level. The first activity we participated in was a Coffee Talk hosted by the United NationsAssociation Albania, with  UNFPA Country Director for Albania as well as officers of UNFPA Albania as special guests. Dr. Nigina Abaszadeh shared information about the work of the agency she directs for the empowerment of youth regionally and globally. . Among around 20 other young people we had a chance to contribute to the discussion and also receive information from them on various topics, such as the exclusion of young people of the Roma community, obstacles for youth in accessing health care services, or inclusion of young people with disabilities. 

The event organized by the young members of Tirana’s Municipal Council was the only on-site activity that we attended for the International Youth Day, due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This also gave us an opportunity to meet members of other organizations of civil society, young entrepreneurs, talented individuals, etc. It was overwhelming for both of us to connect with young people that had achieved so much in our society. It served as a real inspiration for us to keep being motivated and work harder for our mission. 

At an international level, we participated in the Vienna International Centre’s Webinar, in which according to the leaders of the different organizing agencies from all around the world, young people were seen as key factors in achieving peace and also building cooperation. They have high competencies in the use of digital tools as a way to expand the field of youth activism and engagement in decision making. Knowing this, governmental leaders must be conscious that including youth in policymaking is not an option, it is a must. 

One of the most special things about International Youth Day was that we had the honor of starting an initiative together with other Youth Delegates to the United Nations from several countries, in which we shared messages dedicated to young people for raising awareness for the importance of their participation in decision-making, as well as activism and collaboration in a national and international level. Youth Delegates from the U.S.A., Hungaria, Slovenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Czechia, and Estonia joined us and made us think and feel really proud of the things that our generation is doing all around the world. 

This International Youth Day was unique for us, and we reflected a lot about not just our roles as Youth Delegates, but also as young individuals. There is high importance of raising the investments for youth, starting from their basic needs to their inclusion at the highest levels of participation as a way to be more effective in fulfilling global goals. Youth leaders of today express a greater ambition of transforming the world we live in, by being drivers of change, and most importantly, innovators that work in the true spirit of the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter. 

Hence, let us be the initiators of such change!