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UNFPA Pacific, Suva (August 12, 2016) - The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, today marks a double celebration: it is International Youth Day and it joins the Pacific regional family in congratulating Fiji for its first Olympics gold medal in a team sport.

This year's theme is The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.

"The UNFPA recognize that young people are key to promoting the well-being of their families, communities and nations, they are also critical for the achievement of the global sustainable development goals," Bruce Campbell, UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office Director and Representative said.

"Sport plays an important role in development and we celebrate with the Pacific region today, for this well-deserved achievement - progress of individual players will contribute to his or her family, community and the nation as a whole.

"On this International Youth Day, the UNFPA reaffirms its commitment to continue working with young people in breaking barriers so everyone can reach their full potential, while exercising their full human rights."

More than 500 million youth worldwide live in poverty, and often cannot afford their basic needs. They lack access to vital resources, and are disproportionately represented amongst the world's poor.

Last year, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which requires us to balance the needs of present and future generations, create economic growth without destroying natural resources and reduce consumption while fostering well-being and dignity.

In Pacific countries with large, emerging youth populations, Governments have an opportunity to reap the benefit of a demographic dividend, provided they put adequate investments in the education, health and employment of young people, and in particular the teenage girls.

"A girl who is 10 years old today will be 24 in 2030, the target year for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We must ensure that her path through adolescence and youth leads to a brighter future for herself, her community and the world - that is paved with rights upheld, opportunities realized and promises fulfilled," Mr Campbell said.

To empower young people means giving them the tools to become more influential, productive actors in their societies. In order to achieve this, countries need to end all forms of discrimination faced by young people, particularly adolescent girls, such as forced and child marriage and sexual violence, which can result in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and HIV infections, and risk derailing their future.

Investments in social sectors that improve the resilience of individuals and communities will be critical particularly in the Pacific region which is the home of the most vulnerable populations to the effects of climate change.

Investments in education, health services, including sexual and reproductive health and family planning are critical in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, strengthen the resilience of populations in the face of all challenges and seize the opportunities of the new economy.

UNFPA calls on governments, development partners and other influencers to partner with youth in enacting policies that promote young people's development and human rights, and to measure progress across the SDGs that relate to adolescents and youth.

Young people are leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy without overburdening already strained ecosystems.

UNFPA is proud to partner with young people in more than 150 countries and territories around the world to promote their participation and leadership, enabling them to overcome barriers, spearhead innovations and unleash their full potential.