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UN chief says youth of the world cannot survive on their hope alone

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Monday that young people have great potential to change the world in a positive manner, but need support from the international community to do so.

"Youth have great hopes for the future -- but they cannot survive on hopes," said Ban. "They need food, jobs and health care. "

Ban's statement came as he addressed the opening plenary of the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development, a commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in charge of advising ECOSOC on population issues and trends.

Ban told the commission that in his travels as secretary- general, he has encountered many young people who aspire to make a difference in the world and want to know what the UN is doing to help people who are suffering.

"Above all, I want to help youth find their place in our United Nations -- to work together on the major problems facing our world, " he said.

In order to empower the youth of the world, said Ban, the international community must ensure that they have jobs and resources, including reproductive health care.

"We cannot ignore the facts," he said. "Many young people are sexually active. And because of this, they may face risks to their health, including sexual violence. They need the information and means to protect themselves."

Ban assured the commission that he is committed to helping young people reach their potential.

"Youth are more than a demographic force -- they are a force for progress," he said. "That is why I have pledged to appoint a Special Advisor for Youth. Empowering young people is a major platform in my action agenda for the coming years."

He explained that the international community will "face a test " in the form of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, due to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20-22.

"This is our one-in-a-generation chance to advance progress on the Millennium Development Goals for the sake of our planet and its people," he said. "Let us make sure that young people have their place across the international agenda."

The Millennium Development Goals, widely backed by the international community, are a set of eight anti-poverty targets to be reached by its deadline of 2015.


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