Press Release

2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum - Opening Remarks by Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UNGA

02 May 2023

Message of Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UNGA

As young people today, you are warriors. We regard you as warriors.

You are making your mark – as we heard from the ECOSOC President – in a world overcome by complex, interlinked crises, that have been supercharged by the COVID pandemic.

You are fighting for your lives, your families, your communities, and our planet.

It is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds.

You are fighting those odds with little more than your voice, your phones, your social media accounts and activities, and your enthusiasm.

And yet, despite it all – you are winning.

You are winning already by being here, being involved, and being heard. 

And I hope – being listened to.

To give you a few examples of how your engagement is making a difference:

Just last month, the UN General Assembly passed by consensus a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an Advisory Opinion on the legal obligations regarding climate change.

It has been a long battle for more than 10 years, and the last four years, turned to be decisive.

This was a historic moment inspired by young law students in the Pacific who, in 2019, raised their concerns to the attention of Vanuatu’s Government. The rest is history.

There are other examples.

In Ghana, young climate activist Joshua Amponsem founded the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO).

It led to the first community-led zero waste program in West Africa – the Sustainable Community Project.

The project has been replicated across municipalities, provided jobs to more than 100 people and restored dignity to the work of informal waste collectors.

This is proof that you can be drivers of real transformation.

That your commitment, your thoughts and innovations may prove to be game-changing.

Young people’s ideas are critical because our 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is badly off-track.

This is a perfect opportunity to come up with some game-changing solutions on several SDGs that will be under review at our High-level Political Forum in July, as we heard from the President of the ECOSOC.

We just concluded the UN Water Conference. We emerged with nine game-changing ideas and a Water Action Agenda containing more than 700 voluntary commitments from Governments.

Many of these would not have been born and accepted without the inquisitive and innovative minds of young people, without your dedication, your energy, your thirst to do things. And now we have them, and now we’re going to change the course of events. Thank you very much.

We have reached tipping points.

Points of no return.

And, in a sense, the moment of truth has come.  

We cannot accept any more excuses for delaying the implementation of the pledges my generation has made.

I cannot see anything that would be more urgent than to reverse at least some of the human-induced damage to our natural resources.

To our planet, the only home we have.

Keep this in mind – educate yourselves and hold leaders accountable for promises made.

You will soon have a good partner on your side.

The new UN Youth Office is taking shape.

And once established, this will guarantee that your voices are systematically integrated across the United Nations system.

Now is the time to share your perspectives.

Because now is the time to transform our practices, the way we live and the way we think about it.

We are the first generation of feeling the really, really very bad shape of climate, water, biodiversity. And we are the last generation that can still do something about it.

I have to tell you; it will not be easy progress or smooth sailing.

But, if you feel stuck, remember what Jordin Sparks sang, “we live and we learn to take one step at a time”.

I thank you, and welcome aboard.


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