August 27, 2018
RPJ Partner Deena R. Merlen provided opening remarks at the opening ceremony of the 22nd Session of The Youth Assembly. The Youth Assembly, which ran from August 10 to August 13, brought special delegates– nearly 1,000 young leaders and entrepreneurs between the ages of 16 and 26 from over 100 countries– to New York City to convene with seasoned representatives from government, the United Nations, the public sector, philanthropic institutions, industry, academia and civil society. The theme for this 22nd session was “Breaking New Grounds for Sustainable Development.”
The Youth Assembly is a project of the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF), a 501(c)(3) NGO formally associated with the UN Department of Public Information and in consultative status with ECOSOC and UNESCO. With a global population of over 1.8 billion, young people possess the ambition and ability to take on some of society’s greatest challenges. FAF recognizes the talent and drive of youth as an underused resource and seeks to engage youth as stakeholders and leaders in the global movement for inclusive and sustainable development.
Previous delegates to the Youth Assembly, who over the years have come from every continent, almost every single country and from across various fields of study, have gone on to set up schooling for thousands of children in Afghanistan, develop a whole new structure for the protection of orphans in Brazil, provide educational programs to 7,000 schools across India, transform agriculture and food security practices in the Philippines, set up dental care for women across various developing countries, and bring a new microfinance initiative to Nepal. One former delegate to the Youth Assembly, Ahmad Alhendawi, even went on to become the first ever United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, which brought an entire new infrastructure for youth voices to be heard on the world stage.
Ms. Merlen has served as a Director on the FAF Board since 2011.