At two recent events — The African Youth Conference in Nairobi, and the North-East Asian Youth Conference in Seoul — youth organizations came together to state their demands for the post-2015 development agenda. Additionally, the UN Secretary-General has appointed Ahmad Alhindawi of Jordan as his Envoy on Youth. The article below provides more details on the conferences and on the Youth envoy.
Conference in Nairobi Emphasizes African Youth in Development
“Putting Young People at the Heart of Regional Development” – this was the theme of the African Youth Conference from 18-20 December 2012 at the United Nations Office in Nairobi. The 80 participants from youth organizations of 11 African countries aimed to review the progress made in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa and identify concrete actions toward acceleration of the goals. They also shared views and ideas related to the post-2015 development agenda.
The conference was informed by an online African Youth Survey and a social media campaign which gathered youth views on the post-2015 development agenda and the MDGs.
In his opening remarks Ababu Namwambi, the Minister of Youth Affairs and sports of Kenya, pointed out the importance of involving youth in the process because “when they are given a voice, they can drive change and when they are engaged, informed, and empowered, they can advocate for themselves and create solutions that create better communities,” he said.
The group discussions held in Nairobi were structured around six priority areas: equitable access to quality education and technology; health, including sexual and reproductive health; youth empowerment and employment; good governance, peace and security; climate change, environmental sustainability and food security; and access to social justice and protection of minorities and vulnerable groups. The African Youth Conference culminated with the adoption of the Youth Declaration on the Post-2015 Agenda, which elaborates on these six priority areas.
The Declaration requests governments to increase their efforts to achieve the MDGs and strengthen institutions to fight corruption. It also recommends improving equitable access to sustainable water and sanitation services, and empowering and mobilizing youth to participate in the MDGs process and to hold governments accountable. For the UN and development partners, the Declaration calls for the support of projects that mitigate climate change and encourage sustainable consumption. Finally, it advocates increased engagement of civil society in community work to raise awareness about the causes of poverty and to address these challenges.
This conference was organized by the Organization of African Youth-Kenya in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-Habitat, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), VSO Jitolee, and Faces of Peace Kenya.
Participants in the conference will form an African Youth Working Group on post-2015 to ensure that their Declaration is presented to the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This group will also work in close collaboration with the African CSO Coalition, their governments, and the United Nations Development Group, to ensure the opinions of African youth are well articulated in the high level meetings. They will also work on a fundraising strategy to ensure African youth have resources to effectively participate in the consultations.
North-East Asian Youth Conference held in early January
More than 50 young people from diverse backgrounds in Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia took part in the North-East Asian Youth Conference on the post-2015 development agenda in Seoul from 7- 9 January 2013.
This conference produced a declaration, “The World We Want”: A North-East Asian Youth Vision.
Participants presented their declaration to key policymakers from Korea, China, Japan and Mongolia, including Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan, a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
“The young people from all four countries talked openly, honestly and as equals. As young people, I think we tackled some of the more sensitive issues more logically than adults often do. There is a real desire to work together for development and peace in the future,” said Clara Suh, 24, a participant from Seoul.
The declaration demands decision-makers to ensure access to quality education and stresses the need for greater peace, security, economic and cultural cooperation and open communication in North-East Asia. On sustainable development, the declaration calls for resilience to natural and man-made disasters and addressing sustainable energy concerns. On peace and security, the declaration proposes an organization to discuss historical and territorial disputes among the four countries. The declaration calls for achievable, realistic development goals that include recommendations targeted to the UN, governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
“I realize that right here, right now I have the chance to fight for the people I have never met and for children I will never know. We have worked so hard to picture a beautiful future for the next generations,” said Qingling Kong, 23, a participant from Beijing.
The Conference was co-hosted by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre, the Sub-Regional Office for East and North-East Asia of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), the Global Compact Korea Network and Korea University.
Secretary General appoints Envoy on Youth
With the purpose of empowering young people, on 17th January United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Ahmad Alhindawi of Jordan as his Envoy on Youth. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said: “The Secretary-General in his Five-Year Action Agenda identified ‘Working with and for Women and Young People’ as one of his top priorities. In this context, the Envoy on Youth will work to address the needs of the largest generation of youth the world has ever known.”
Photo Credits: African Youth on Post-2015 Agenda; UNDP.