HM The Queen's speech at Global Child Forum Action Lab 2: Listening to the Change-Maker Generation

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Your Majesty,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you today to Global Child Forum’s second Action Lab: Listening to the Change-Maker Generation.

Young people’s participation in civic life is a subject close to my heart. Why? Because I know, and have seen, how much young people can contribute to making this world a better place.

At the Global Child Forum in 2018, we listened to two young workers from Indonesia – Fauza and Kezia – who shared with us their life’s challenges, as well as their dreams.

As part of a Children’s Advisory Committee, they met with business and governmental leaders to share their experiences and ideas for better protection against harmful work and greater access to educational opportunities and health services. They have been involved in making recommendations for policies and programs to improve the lives of children not only in Indonesia, but around the world.

I will never forget their bravery – taking to the plenary stage at the Palace – to bring us their message. I heard in their words, and saw in their eyes, a steely determination to make the necessary changes they saw as important.

They are part of the change-maker generation.

And there are countless more young people doing the same. Such as today’s speaker, Omnia El Omrani, who is calling for youth engagement in road safety crisis and is pushing for health campaigns on smoking. His Majesty had the pleasure of hearing Omnia speak at a traffic safety conference organized by the Swedish Government in February.

She is part of the change-maker generation.

And we will also hear from Lana Weidgenant, who is leading a youth-led climate justice movement for new young activists and organizers.

She is part of the change-maker generation.

Collectively, and individually, these young people are using their voice to make their concerns heard and to have their ideas taken seriously.

We have all seen the power of the young generation – from the students in Parkland, Florida who pushed to demand gun-control legislation, to today’s “Fridays for Future”, started by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, demanding climate action. Youth have a history of pushing social change forward.

And while their slogans may be different, the youth at the forefront of these movements are no longer content to just push for change from the fringes of power. Increasingly, they are driving change themselves, either through the democratic process or by spearheading movements that command the world’s attention.

And this is their right.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child underscores the importance of engaging with children. Under the Convention, children have the right to express their own opinions and have those opinions heard.

And while this is their right; listening to them is our privilege.

Today we will discuss how business can harness the power of youth.

We will ask: How can companies improve their contribution to society by listening to youth, and also: how can they benefit from it? What are the potential synergies that can be created?

In November, Global Child Forum will add to this discussion by releasing a new resource called “Children’s Participation: a guide for the corporate sector” which will provide concrete examples and suggestions on how business can engage with young people.

In the title of today’s Action Lab, you will find the word “change-maker”. With this comes the idea that change is something we make happen, not something that just happens.

This young generation has shown us that they are ready to make change happen – to raise their voices, engage in meaningful dialogue, and contribute with their energy and innovation. But they can’t do it alone. We need to be their partners, making change happen.

You will also find the word “listening” in the Action Lab title – listening to the change-maker generation.

But I’d like to suggest that we go beyond listening, to actually doing. What this will mean for you or your business will differ. But I can guarantee that your business, your community, our world, will become better for it.

Thank you for being with us here today.