Mr Palm's remarks on the ocassion of the launch of "The State of the World's Children 2011" report in Shkodra on 25 February 2011
The State of the World’s Children Report 2011, “Adolescence: An age of opportunity”
Good morning - Miremengjes!
I like to thank you for coming to this event. We are here to launch the “The State of World Children report”, which is the most important annual publication by UNICEF.
While we are here, officials in Geneva, Berlin, London, Paris, New York, or Beijing are getting ready to do exactly the same: to talk to young people, to talk about young people.
So, lets be proud. We are part of world-wide movement. The movement says: Young people are important. Their opinions matter. Listen to young people. Do more for young people.
This movement says: invest in young people. Because adolescence is the age of opportunity. It is the age where young people - you - take important decisions that will matter for the rest your life.
Parents, government, civil society, officials like me, realize that we have to support you so you can pursue your dreams, become an important member of your community, and create a society where everyone is respected and can develop its full potential.
We also decided to launch the UNICEF report in Shkodra, because the town and region has been active in supporting young people. I like Shkodra because I always see more young people than elsewhere. The Shkodra and its young people also demonstrated strength during the last floods.
Now I have to say something about the UNICEF report. The full report (I only have the executive summary here) has one big message to the leaders of the world.
The message is: Most global challenges such as poverty, peace, climate change, unemployment, inequity, and human rights can only be resolved if we involve young people. Right now.
The report says, that young people are not just future adults and you have to be patient, and it will take time and so on. The report says that young people should be taken serious; right now.
Governments, decision makers, the private sector, companies, self-help organization should not only work FOR young people, but also WITH young people.
Let me talk about young people in Albania. Last Friday I was in another city, also doing business with the regional council. Many people spoke, but not many people paid attention.
But then, a young person from the youth parliament spoke. And all the officials, the headmen of the communes, the important people and guests went quiet and listened to what the young person had to say.
I was totally impressed. It shows that young people can get the respect, if they prepare themselves, and speak up.
So, my advice is: get involved! Start a club. Participate in local TV or radio projects. Run for the youth parliament. Take a training course. Clean up your environment. Learn how to use a computer. Don't sit and wait for your uncle to find you a job.
Take an interest in your community, your school, your university, your city. Make suggestions where things can be improved. Complain if necessary. Ask, when things are not clear. Insist to get an answer that you understand.
One out of five person in Albania is between 15 and 24 years of age. The last time we made a survey, many were frustrated or had lost hope. Half of the young people wanted nothing than to go abroad.
We can agree that many things need to improve, in terms of education, training and job opportunities. But remember, that life abroad is risky if you don't know what you will be doing.
Things do get better. And if you always look abroad and across the borders, you will not see the opportunities that might be here, or how you can contribute. In Shkodra, UNICEF - part of a UN joint programme - has helped to inaugurate the Youth Employment Center. I heard its going well and I will go there after this to see for myself.
Such services by government, need to be made available to all young people, in cities and the mountains, for boys and girls, and especially for those who always end up last. I encourage young people to use such services, and help improving them. I encourage central and local authorities to introduce such services in all cities in Albania.
Let me conclude by thanking the European Information Center for hosting us, and all the officials who so readily came and support young people here in Shkodra. And thanks to the young people who came here, because I know that you want to engage and work for an equitable and just society.