The UN High-Level Political Forum is the world’s most important diplomatic convening about the Sustainable Development Goals, with profound effects on our children. So where are the children’s voices, and where is their creativity? Front and center. The HandaHarmony Sing for Hope Global Youth Initiative and UNICEF opened the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) with a special sung call to action by our world’s youth, filmed and compiled completely virtually. The powerful performance features musical youth ages 8–18 in the original song “Dream Big, Speak Loud,” and marks the first time ever that a youth arts performance opens a session of the United Nations High-level Political Forum, one of the world’s most important diplomatic convenings.
Made possible by The HandaHarmony Sing for Hope Global Youth Initiative and UNICEF, the inclusion of a youth-driven creative arts moment is a powerful statement by the U.N. about the key role that youth and creativity play in global social change, inclusivity, and empowerment. It speaks to the impact of children and young people (as exemplified by Greta Thunberg and others) in the push toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This performance at the United Nations High-level Political Forum, featuring global youth from Young at Arts Chorus, is the culmination of music-learning sessions and creative learn-at-home resources delivered virtually to students during the current requisite global quarantine – a time of great difficulty during which creative arts programming has proven of more importance than ever for isolated youth.
Dedicated to moving youth and creativity from the periphery of the global social change conversation to the center of it, Sing for Hope’s HandaHarmony Global Youth Initiative and UNICEF are now in the second year of their impactful partnership. The program launched in July 2019 with a special Sing for Hope Piano as the centerpiece of the youth-arts-centered U.N. High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) Side Event at UNICEF House, made possible by Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Chairman of the International Foundation for Arts & Culture and Sing for Hope Global Patron.
“We are delighted to once again collaborate with Sing for Hope’s HandaHarmony program during the UN High-level Political Forum,” says Shannon O’Shea, UNICEF’s Team Leader of Public Partner Advocacy, Visibility, & the SDG’s. “The message conveyed through the performance of Dream Big, Speak Loud is particularly important at this time as the world grapples with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, it is a message of hope and resolve that we must reimagine and then create a better, fairer, and greener world for young people but also in partnership with them.”
“There has never been a more important time for us collectively, as global citizens, to bring hope and healing to individuals and communities who are too often left behind,” says Midori Miyazaki, International Executive Director at the International Foundation for Arts and Culture and Sing for Hope Board Member. Sing for Hope Co-Founder Camille Zamora says, “As we continue to evolve our HandaHarmony Sing for Hope Global Youth Initiative SDG Arts Curriculum, this special performance allows us to elevate the voices that will shape our shared future.” Sing for Hope Co-Founder Monica Yunus adds, “As we continue ahead into the U.N. Decade of Action 2020-2030, we applaud the U.N. for giving youth artists a seat at the table of global social change, bringing their light to the SDGs.”
Featured student and Young at Arts Chorus member Patricia Scott was one of the young musicians who performed composer Jennifer Walsey’s original song about our ability to create the world we want to live in. She concludes, “It means so much for world leaders to include young people like me in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals. Through this, I feel that I have found my tool for change, my own light to add to the world.”