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The geographic, cultural, and economic differences that long defined the world are fast disappearing and are being replaced by new realities, new opportunities and new challenges for young people.
Young people today are confronted with new developments in the ways and means of learning; often rapid economic change, social dislocation and growing, if uneven, affluence; increasing urbanization and rural isolation; and the affects of climate change and threats to the natural environment. Political instability and the shadow of ethnic and religious conflict and violence hang over the lives of many young people.
Geographic location, physical environment, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, religious beliefs, cultural background, and sexual orientation are some of the characteristics that differentiate young people. Consequently, young people require supports and different resources based on their differing characteristics, aspirations and needs.
Malta is of the view that in this global context empowering young women and young men is critical if they are to successfully overcome the challenges and avail of the opportunities that face them today.
Empowerment is based on respect for the individuality, worth and dignity of every young person regardless of their gender, beliefs, ethnicity, capacities, socio-economic background and sexual orientation; for the right to have their voice heard and to be informed on all issues that concern them; and for the right to determine their own future and happiness.
Empowerment upholds the human rights and responsibilities of young people. It fosters gender equality and equal treatment for all as well as social solidarity, civic engagement and volunteerism. It promotes good and responsible governance and strengthens the democratic process. It recognises the particular needs and aspirations of young people with disabilities, young people at risk, and those living in indigenous communities.
In its foreign policy, Malta seeks to support young people and youth organisations both in the Mediterranean region and further afield, while domestically it seeks to encourage young people to be opened to the wider world and to engage actively with its many peoples and cultures.
There are no surveys or studies that describe recent general trends on youth interest in global issues. A study entitled “The Participation of Maltese Young People in the Voluntary Sector” published in 2012 had noted that “the voluntary youth sector lacks the human resources necessary to see through its plans and seems to be experiencing difficulties in attracting the participation of young people. Voluntary organisations also seem to have a dearth of the basic resources they require to cope with the complex process to apply for funding through EU programmes. Most lack legal, financial and a governance framework.” However, the National Youth Council together with a number of youth organisations, such as Malta UNESCO Youth Organisation, MaltMUN, Kopin and AIESEC, offer opportunities for young participants to get involved in global issues such as UN Millennium Development goals, Human rights and Sustainable development.