On 29 September 2023, Marsela and Aldi conveyed the perspectives of young Albanians at the largest global diplomacy forum, summarizing the ideas gathered during an extensive consultation tour involving hundreds of young people across Albania. Their speech at the Third Committee of the United Nations, on social, humanitarian, and human rights issues, can be found below:
While we are halfway through the 2030 Agenda, we are still far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As a young person in 2023, living in Greece may mean your house has been devastated by fires. In Libya and Haiti, massive flooding might be tragic. In Morocco, you might be one of the 100.000 children impacted by the catastrophic earthquake.
All of the above are just a few examples that demonstrate what young climate activists have been claiming for so long: that this is not just climate change, but it is a climate crisis. And as an urgent crisis, it calls for immediate action and intergenerational decision-making. For this purpose, Albania has improved the inclusion and participation of young people in climate change negotiations and encourages all member states to give voice to their young generations.
Unfortunately, climate action is not the only sustainable development goal where we are lagging. Although SDG 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, one of the aftermaths of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an insurgence of mental health issues. Albania is working on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, and ensuring that those in need can seek help without fear or judgment.
In this regard, Albania has recently adopted a National Action Plan for Mental Health with clear objectives for the well-being of children and young people. This strategy underscores the enhancement of initiatives dedicated to addressing this matter, alongside reinforcing resources and capacities for the early detection of mental health issues.
The mental well-being of young people is not only essential to their personal development and fulfillment but also to the prosperity and progress of our societies and global community. Working together with youth to improve mental health services, we can shape a world where children and youth feel safer and healthier.
Among other challenges, the issue of mass migration of young people looms large. The dynamic migration from the Western Balkans is considered as an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills and further sustain the overall development of the region.
On the other hand, the potential loss of human capital could hinder sustainable development. To mitigate this, Albania is fostering an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. For the first time in Albania, young people can benefit from the National Youth Strategy 2022- 2029, which has been designed also with support from UNICEF and provides an offer of: career guidance and orientation and overall wellbeing for young people, focusing especially on those most in need. We are moving ahead in supporting children and young people by providing assistance for startups and technological development, as well as establishing coding programs for children starting from elementary schools.
We must recognize that migration, while often a personal choice, can be driven by systemic factors such as lack of opportunities, conflict, and environmental pressures. Albania is dedicated to addressing the root causes of migration, and we firmly believe that a successful strategy lies in investing in our youth while bridging the gap between learning and earning. In line with this vision, Albania is implementing the Youth Guarantee Program: a mechanism that seeks to support young people who are not in education, employment or training therefore reducing the unemployment rate and creating new opportunities.
While we have only 7 years left to achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is crucial to remember that children and youth must have a primary role in ensuring sustaining peace.
According to World Vision, over 7.5 million children in Ukraine have been displaced since February 2022 with most of them suffering restrictions of their human rights. Let us bring to attention that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is an imperative that demands respect and commitment from all nations to ensure a brighter and more equitable future for our youngest generation.
We strongly believe that human rights are universal, indivisible, and inherent to every person. In alignment with this fundamental belief, Albania presented its candidacy for the U.N. Human Rights Council 2024-2026, and will grant special focus on women’s rights and children’s rights.
As we confront our climate adversities, work to improve the well-being of our societies, balance mobility, resolve conflicts, and stand up for human rights, let us stand united in empowering our youth and steering the course of history toward a future of promise and prosperity. Let us recognize the voices of young people and let’s put them at the heart of our global goals.
We thank you for your attention!