Youth unite to shape development agenda

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New York - Young people from more than 1 000 youth organisations have gathered at the United Nations Headquarters to add their voices to the ongoing discussion about a new global agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

“This is about your future – so it must be your agenda,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, a two-day event that kicked off on Monday in New York.

With 1.8 billion adolescents and youth around the world, young people face unique challenges in securing quality education, basic health and decent work, Ban noted. They also confront global challenges, such as climate change.

“There is a world of need out there, but also a world of opportunity. So I urge you to keep doing your part. Keep showing your leadership as global citizens,” he added, urging the youth participants to “keep making a difference.”

The Forum open as the United Nations and its Member States are working to craft a sustainable development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for reaching the mainly anti-poverty targets set in 2000 when the MDGs were adopted.

These negotiations must bear in mind that with half the world’s population under the age of 25, the current generation of youth is the largest ever, and specific targets focused on youth should be integrated into any future development framework.

As part of their agenda, Youth Forum delegates will today deliver the “Global Youth Call” to Member States and Ban’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, spotlighting education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, peace and security, and governance as the thematic areas of greatest concern for them in the future.

More than 1.2 million young people voted in the My World 2015 survey, and participated in a crowdsourcing platform convened by UN agencies and partners, to voice their concerns.

Alhendawi said that the forum, now in its third year, has evolved over time, now involving thousands of youth worldwide in the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda.

The challenge ahead is how to build a global consensus among youth stakeholders. “A consensus must be forged with complete targets for youth. Young people are sharing the same struggle to reach common aspirations in employment, education, politics and decision-making,” he said.

“Let us seize this opportunity to allow young people to achieve their true potential and to sustain the planet,” he said, calling on them to aim high and hammer out practical steps to achieve the world youth want.

Jobs are the key area that young people want world leaders to focus on. Some 75 million youth are unemployed, and more than 600 million jobs need to be generated globally in the life span of the new development agenda to absorb current unemployment levels and provide jobs to new labour market entrants, according to the UN. –


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