Rome (Italy). On 12 August 2022, International Youth Day is celebrated, established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1999, to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community, enhance the potential of young people in social and economic changes, and raise awareness of the challenges and the difficulties they face.
This year’s theme, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” highlights the need for people of all ages, young and old, to join forces to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind.
Unfortunately, young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives, such as employment, political participation, health, and justice. Nonetheless, the elderly often suffer from penalties with respect to their condition. This is why it is important to think and design social policies and services that have different approaches based on the age of life.
Furthermore, promoting intergenerational solidarity is more necessary than ever to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic, which requires a ‘reconstruction’ process in which to exploit the strengths and knowledge of all generations to tackle global issues together.
“From Covid-19 to climate change, conflict, poverty, inequality, and discrimination, we need everyone’s strength to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and build the better and more peaceful future we are all looking for”.
This is what António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, says in the Message for the Day 2022, where he talks about the proposals of the Youth Office at the United Nations to support young people with large investments in education and in the creation of skills, and to broaden the opportunities for young people to participate in civil and political life. “It is not enough to listen to young people; we must integrate them into decision-making mechanisms at the local, national, and international level”. We must also ensure that the older generations have access to social protection and the opportunity to share their decades of accumulated experience with their communities.
Pope Francis in the Message for the World Day of Peace 2022 also speaks of the urgency of the alliance between generations to address contemporary crises:
“On the one hand, young people need the existential, wisdom, and spiritual experience of the elderly; on the other hand, the elderly need the support, affection, creativity and dynamism of young people. Great social challenges and peace processes necessarily call for dialogue between the keepers of memory – the elderly – and those who move history forward – the young. Each must be willing to make room for others and not to insist on monopolizing the entire scene by pursuing their own immediate interests, as if there were no past and future.
The global crisis we are experiencing shows us in encounter and dialogue between generations the driving force of a healthy politics, which is not content to manage the present ‘with piecemeal solutions or quick fixes’, but views itself as an outstanding form of love for others, in the search for shared and sustainable projects for the future”.