Closing words by Jan van Zanen at the presentation of the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize, 7 December 2023


Dear Students,

Distinguished guests,


To start with, my warmest congratulations to Quint and Marijn here on the stage and Aoife, Elise and Noëmi in the auditorium.

The presentation of the prestigious Youth Carnegie Peace Prize to World’s Youth for Climate Justice is especially worthy.

But more than just that.

It is also an affirmation of the importance of what World’s Youth for Climate Justice stands for:

Combatting climate change, in your case through the use of international law.

This prize further underlines how important it is for young people’s voices to be heard.

Especially on a topic directly related to the future of today’s young people and generations to come.

Young people should be at the table, locally, nationally and internationally.

Something that was very clear at the celebration of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, now more than three years ago (I had just begun with my work as mayor of The Hague).

That celebration, in the midst of the corona pandemic, was of necessity held in a nearly empty Peace Palace.

For that reason alone, something that will remain with me.

But I remember it for other reasons too:

I had the pleasure of seeing the presentation of The Hague Youth Manifesto.

A first and significant step towards the inclusion and involvement of young people in the UN.

The Manifesto included eight ‘demands’.

The seventh was specifically about the climate and sustainability.

I quote:

“We demand: an integrated and inclusive say in processes on sustainable development and any other issues related to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis.

In the spirit of intergenerational equity, young people should be included structurally on determining the way forward.”

End of quote.

‘Good intentions’ you could say.

But those good intentions have indeed been turned into action.

As demonstrated by the historic resolution adopted by the General Meeting of the United Nations in March of this year.

A resolution in which the International Court of Justice was asked to issue an opinion on States’ commitment to climate change.

A milestone, reached due to the tenacity of World’s Youth for Climate Justice.

In addition to the prize you are receiving today from the Carnegie Foundation and Youth Peace Initiative, the city of The Hague would also like to present you with something.

And that is a study grant to take a course at The Hague Academy for International Law.

It is up to you to decide which of you will use the grant.

Once again, my warmest congratulations.

Hope to meet you again somewhere in The Hague.

And please know that you will always be welcome here.