Assistant Secretary General Speech


June 8, 2022 - Los Angeles, California

Distinguished invited guests
Generous Sponsors
YABT President, Board Members and Coordinating Team
Impressive young leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators
Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to join with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) in welcoming you to today’s opening ceremony, but even more thrilled to share this space, replete with the energy and the dynamism of youthful potential that must catalyze change, effect solutions, generate inspiration, and produce results.

I am energized by the sheer recognition of what can be achieved when the minds of young, ambitious, visionary avant-gardes and creatives are challenged to not simply rise to the level of the highest expectations but to supersede them and then to keep realizing new goals. Today is a good day to recognize and to celebrate the inspirational vitality of young minds!

Based on the overwhelming evidence of its success in creating, supporting, and advancing opportunities for the expansion of enterprise and leadership in the youth of the Americas, the Young Americas Business Trust was tasked with shouldering the responsibility of coordinating the VI Young Americas Forum, as one of three official stakeholder forums of the IX Summit of the Americas. I am pleased to note that once again the YABT has proven its value as a momentum builder and as a multiplier of networks and platforms on which young people can launch workable ideas from concept into reality and build out common sense innovations that receive the guidance of experts and success story makers to respond to felt needs. When dreams are transformed into income generating business ideas that bear fruit well into the future, everybody wins.

Through its policy labs, the transfer of business skills and expertise, through exposure to and mentorship by world renowned innovative and corporate leaders who walked your path, YABT is here to further stimulate your growth, deepen your interest and entrepreneurship ideals, and reward your winning entries in its renowned competitions that unearth and promote your creative genius.

Distinguished guests, dear friends: The OAS is proud of its longstanding partnership with YABT, the basis of which is a mutually held interest in advancing a progressive youth agenda, one that prioritizes the generation of opportunities that underpin growth and development of the young people of the hemisphere and fosters a path to innovation and creativity, leadership, civic participation, self-awareness, and an appreciation of your potential to be fully participatory across all spheres of endeavor.

The work of YABT must be constant since supporting innovation among young people must keep up with the pace of the challenges that constantly bombard our world. Our hemisphere cannot be left behind, so we must find the means to honor our commitment to achieve the gains that come with innovation and the generation of new ideas. The OAS pledges its ongoing support to the work of YABT, and for my part, my own promotion and advancement of its offerings are a constant feature of my engagement with political leaders and high authorities across the Americas. I am a committed partner in the quest to keep opening doors for inspiring and supporting youth innovation, and my Office will continue to work with YABT through OAS Offices across the Americas in support of those laudable objectives.

We can certainly do more with the expansion of robust partnerships that can build on the progress already achieved.

I speak particularly to the potential of our international financial institutions and development corporations that individually and collectively embody the resources that can make a significant difference to the reach of YABT programs, including by leveraging their data, expertise, and broad sponsorship potential. Imagine a combined force YABT, OAS, World Bank, and global development corporations working to unearth, stimulate, and support youth innovation to the benefit of hemispheric economies large and small, blue, green and orange! I join with YABT in its outreach because I am convinced of the good that can come of such a pooling of goodwill and vision, and I invite the partnership of other hemispheric and global agencies which are desirous of investing in young difference-makers!

To be very clear, there is no downside to investing in our youth. A future in which the minds of the young people in the Americas are challenged, encouraged, and given the tools to exemplify excellence through innovation is one in which all of society stands to reap rewards, experience the fruits of increased employment, greater productivity, and a resurgence of ideas to heal, empower, and to respond to threats and impediments to progress. I reiterate the call to action and partnership to the region’s corporate citizens, to international financial organizations, to development corporations, to likeminded political and strategically positioned organizations to join forces with YABT. Our hemisphere and the people who are at the core of our mandates to effect change depend on the substantive results that will shape our hemisphere.

While the world has undoubtedly faced its fair share of challenges over the last few decades, nothing in recent memory compares to the combined onslaught of environmental degradation and attendant existential threats, the ravages of climate change, and the global pandemic that has impacted lives, livelihoods, and the future as we perceived it. For a brief moment, we may have feared the worst; may have wondered how we would be able to recover. Then again, nothing compares to the windows of opportunity which the lessons learnt from these challenges have opened to the minds and the creative genius that can conceptualize and innovate for solutions even to problems no one could have imagined just five short years ago. Our young people are our key to new ideas, bold solutions, innovative responses since as long as ‘every problem has a solution’ we can depend on their minds to find it! As we move forward to a time when the post pandemic era will require new thinking, novel approaches, and comprehensive and multipronged overhauls, all hands must be on deck. Young innovators, investors, funding agencies…here is your chance to make that difference! Youth innovation can indeed change the world.

Moreover, the OAS recognizes that fostering and supporting innovation underpins the sustainability of economic growth and prosperity since the emergence of new ideas creates avenues for the generation of solutions that require new products, services, and avenues that inspire add-ons. This often requires the use of technology which also opens new windows for thinking outside the box to add value to existing ideas or products to make them adaptive, bring about changes or contribute to improvements in society.

I exhort you young leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to go boldly and bravely as you respond to your own quest to build, create, and resolve. The future is as much yours as is the very day, today, in which you determine never to deviate from the path to excellence. This hemisphere is depending on you to blaze new trails that will cement the Americas as a flourishing fount of ideas that can respond to our challenges, and pave new pathways for opportunity and development.

You are the generation than can! The tools of awareness, technology, and can-do are in your hands. I have never failed to be impressed by your innovations, and I know that I will continue to be blown away by your outpouring of creativity in 2022. I congratulate you all for your participation at the IX Summit of the Americas here in Los Angeles. I am convinced that on this path you are destined to do great things for this hemisphere that is in such awe of your acumen, leadership, and innovation.

Congratulations to all. Thank you.