Thank you, Mr. President – welcome back to this room. 

Allow me to begin with the inspiring story of two young women agents of change:

Ibtihal is Libyan, originally from Tripoli. In the midst of conflict, she organized a training program to help women and young people gain access livelihood opportunities.

Sena, born in Damascus, took the refugee route to Türkiye in 2016. In her doctoral thesis, she analyzes the literary works of Syrian refugees who, and I quote Sena, "try to show [refugees] in an alternative perspective: that of bravery, of resilience". 

Mr. President, 

Ibithal and Sena are not alone. Many young women and men in the Mediterranean are committed to tackling the interconnected challenges that weigh on their future: conflict, climate change, marginalization, lack of employment - and the apparent paralysis of state institutions when long-term action is needed. 

I would therefore like to thank Malte for bringing us together on this theme, and the speakers for their contributions. 

Mr. President, 

The willingness of youth to engage is undeniable, as we have just seen. What is needed is the willingness of political leaders to do their part:

First, we need to empower young people economically and socially, so that they have the resources, capabilities and confidence to be agents of change. This means implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But just as important is better prevention of violence and armed conflict, which are often at the root of young people's lack of prospects. 

Today, too many young people in the Mediterranean bear the triple burden of conflict, marginalization and economic insecurity. This burden leads them to lose confidence in state institutions, and to take dangerous migratory routes - as we have seen in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Syria and Libya. And this burden is likely to increase as the effects of climate change intensify, in turn accentuating inequality and poverty. It is therefore in the interests of the whole region and beyond to support the young people of the Mediterranean in developing their economic and social skills, as Switzerland is doing with its "Youth for change" project in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  

Empowerment is necessary, but not sufficient. It's also about valuing young people as agents of change. Considering their dynamism as an opportunity for peace and sustainable development, rather than as a danger. Removing obstacles to young people's participation and encouraging their engagement, rather than drying up their ideas before they have time to germinate

Valuing also means moving from words to deeds. 

The Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agendas point to ways in which participation can be genuinely strengthened, if the political will is there. The Secretary-General's latest YPS report provides concrete examples of youth leadership, such as the intergenerational dialogue on youth and climate security at COP28, or the integration of young people in environmental peacebuilding initiatives, within peace missions in Cyprus and elsewhere. All member states will soon have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to young people, by including in the Pact for the Future the development of a global benchmark for genuine youth participation, under the auspices of the UN Youth Bureau. The Security Council could further strengthen its action, for example by establishing a Youth, Peace and Security Action Plan, along the lines of the Peacebuilding Commission. 

This brings me to my final point: protection. Even if some courageous young people speak out despite threats, fear silences many others. The way forward is obvious: create civic spaces, offline and online, where young people of all genders, communities and backgrounds can express themselves freely and without fear of reprisal; where intercultural and intergenerational dialogue flourishes and hate speech withers.  

Mr. President,  

The countries bordering the Mediterranean are far from uniform. This emblematic sea often appears as a link between very different worlds.  

But throughout the Mediterranean - indeed, worldwide - young people are a crucial driving force in building peaceful, sustainable and prosperous societies. We therefore have a vested interest in empowering, valuing and protecting them; in creating an environment conducive to their participation. As an Arab proverb says: "the fate of every nation depends on its youth".

Thank you very much.