UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for greater and more meaningful inclusion of youths into decision-making processes around the world.
Ban made the call in a message ahead of the International Youth Day scheduled for Sunday.
He warned of a possible "lost generation" if urgent measures were not put in place.
"Today's generation of youth - the largest the world has ever known, and the vast majority of who live in developing countries - has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family.
"The global economic crisis has hit youths the hardest and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities.
"A large number have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes in their countries.
"Without urgent measures, we risk creating a 'lost generation' of squandered talent and dreams," he said.
Following a recommendation from the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, the UN General Assembly declared Aug. 9 to be International Youth Day in 1999.
The theme of this year's Day is "Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth," aimed at developing and engaging in partnerships with the youth.
"On International Youth Day, I call on governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organisations.
"The Youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change.
"Let us support the young people of our world so that they grow into adults who brought up yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders," the UN scribe said.
He, however, noted that youths were a "transformative force, creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents of change, whether in public squares or cyberspace."
The Head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, called on all governments, youth organisations and the international community to mobilise and engage young people in policy-making.
According to her, this is essential for building sustainable peaceful and prosperous societies.
"Young people are a wellspring of ideas for innovation. They are today's thinkers, problem-solvers and catalysts for peace.
"They are often the world's strongest advocates of justice and dignity. But they need good jobs, quality education and access to culture for all. They need to be heard and they need to be included," Bokova said.
(NAN) - United Nations