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AIDS 2010 Conference: Opening of the Youth Pavilion

Speech by Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess at the opening of the Youth Pavilion at the18th International AIDS Conference, Vienna 19 July 2010.

I am very happy to be here – and to see so many people gathered at the youth pavilion.

 More than ever, we need young people to take the lead in the AIDS response.

It is clear that the Vienna Youth Force has done a fantastic job in preparing for the conference. I would like to thank every single one of you who have worked so hard to make this pavilion – and youth – an important part of Aids 2010.

At this conference it is more important than ever to highlight the new direction we need to take.

Over the coming days, the pavilion will be the scene of intense activity. I strongly recommend everybody at the conference to take part in the youth activities - to meet young people who are driven by a strong sense of purpose, and be inspired by their ideas and their work.

We need to recognize youth as global citizens instrumental in understanding and driving the change that is needed in the new aids response.

Last summer we hosted around 40 people from around the world to a Young Leaders Summit in Oslo. Over three days we discussed how to maximize the effectiveness of young people in their AIDS related work. I am happy to see some of these dear and familiar faces here today - Liping being one of them.

I remember one of the participants at the summit in Oslo, Himakshi Piplani - a law student from India, said:

"HIV-related stigma and discrimination act as a mirror being held up to society and shows us all the inequalities of those who we push to the periphery.

But young people are now standing up and highlighting the core values of our society that we hold strong.”

Himakshi was exactly right. And this is why we are here today:

We are here because we need young people's frankness, openness, courage, energy and expertise.

We are here because 40% of new infections are among young people under the age of 24.

We are here because the AIDS response needs a new generation of leadership.

I think most people would agree that youth leadership is important.

But we need practical solutions.

We need to solve the lack of public attention from media the young people get. We need to solve the constant lack of funding for youth led initiatives.

We need to solve that there are not enough opportunities for young people to be part of decision making.

And we need to make it happen now.

The UNAIDS rapport launched last week talks about treatment version 2.0.

To reach the goals stipulated in the report we also need Youth Leadership 2.0.

So let us imagine Youth Leadership 2.0.

Imagine a radically improved system that identifies and organizes emerging youth leaders world wide in a structured and effective way.

Then Imagine proper support for young leaders to maximize their effectiveness and scale up their response. That this system gives youth the space, visibility and credibility to lead trough the transfer of knowledge, loyal support and mentorship.

Now imagine a funding system that understands the power of youth, and therefore radically increases long term funding and creates stabile financial conditions for youth led initiatives.

Finally imagine youth to be the drivers of eradicating this disease because the world’s leaders gave them a chance, not only because they owe youth, but also because they owe the families affected by this epidemic to fully draw upon the knowledge of the people who live at the heart of this disease.

I say: Let it happen now

I believe in young people. Involve them.



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Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s closing remarks on “New generation leadership” for the HIV and AIDS response on Saturday 17 July 2010 (Photo: Liv Anette Luane Kristensen, The Royal Court)