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Empowering Youth: Introductory speech

Introductory speech by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit at the opening of "Empowering Youth" - a conference hosted by Partnership for Change in collaboration with The Crown Prince and Crown Princess' Foundation 15 - 16 May 2013.

Good morning, everyone!

First of all, I would like to thank Ingrid Stange and the rest of team for putting this conference together. And congratulations to all of you – we’re finally here. This is a day I know a lot of us have been looking forward to.

I really believe in young people. That is why I am here with you today - and why our foundation is co-hosting this year's Partnership for Change conference.

I like to dwell a little bit on what it means to be young.

Being young is about more than age.  It can be a rollercoaster of emotions, with an unstable sense of self-esteem. Insecurity, loneliness and disguised vulnerability. We search for love and we search for belonging.

But being young also carries endless possibilities, creativity, curiosity, energy, impatience and guts. It holds a special joy of life.

In other words: It is much like life as an adult - just more intense.

Everything comes in brighter colours, maybe more contrasting colours, though.

There are just as many ways of being young as there are young people in the world.

Every single one of us is unique and each person lives life differently.

Everyone has resources, everyone has skills, personality and experience that deserve to be discovered and nurtured.

Today, half of the world's population is under the age of 27. And young people around the world and in Norway will not only determine our future, they define what the world looks like today.

And still, young people of today face many, many burdens –young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and over 75 million young people are looking for work around the world today. That’s a staggering number – 75 million young people are looking for work! The International Labour Organisation has warned of a “scarred generation” because of both unemployment and increased inactivity amongst many young people.

And yet, millions are better informed, more social responsible and know more about the digital and social revolution than anyone.

It’s their way of life.

Young people are at the forefront of change and innovation, and many have the spirit to make things happen. They just need to be given the space to excel. I have seen it within so many fields in my work; in my work with hiv/aids, in the work we do with young businesses, and within environmental issues to name a few areas.

So we truly need young people’s voices. As a society I don’t think we can survive without truly listen to young people and to develop their skills.

We are gathered here today because:

We believe in the power of young people.

We know that every young person has a potential to fulfil.

And we know that when we are recognized for our qualities, we can create a strong society - together.

So we hope that the next days will provide a platform for all of us to discuss just how we can do that.

Thank you.



15.05.2013

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Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway opens the conference "Empowering Youth" at Oslo Opera House 15 May 2013. The event was hosted by Partnership for Change in collaboration with the Crown Prince and Crown Princess' Foundation. (Photo: Gatekunstakademiet)
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