The fifty-fifth session of the Commission for Social Development continued today, with participants casting a spotlight on challenges faced by young people, and the perils of growing inequality, as Governments strove to put the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into action.
A wide-ranging panel discussion on the theme of youth development and the Sustainable Development Goals in the morning set the stage for an afternoon of general discussion in which national delegations emphasized, among other points, how the Goals’ success hinged on the empowerment of young people.
Sophie Karmasin, Austria’s Federal Minister for Families and Youth, told the panel that youth unemployment — estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) at 74 million — was far too high, and that marginalized women and men risked being either perpetrators or victims of violence.
In similar vein, Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, called inequality the biggest challenge facing young people today, with around 500 million youth living on less than $2 a day. He noted that 2016 was the first year since the global economic crisis in which youth employment had grown, stressing that inequality emanated from a lack of access to opportunities.
In the ensuing discussion, participants took up youth issues from several angles, with Brazil’s representative drawing attention to the unique problems faced by pregnant teenagers, while her counterpart from the Philippines underlined the seriousness of illicit drug use among young people.
In the afternoon debate, some two dozen delegations took the floor not only to identify challenges, but discuss the ways their respective countries sought to address them. Speakers from Afghanistan and Ukraine in particular noted the policies and programmes that their Governments had put in place despite the burdens that conflict had placed on social development.
On behalf of the African Group, Nigeria’s Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development said that, despite impressive growth rates, the continent was at the bottom of social development indicators, prompting its leaders to scale up investments in youth, guided by the African Union “Agenda 2063” blueprint. At the same time, she reaffirmed the role of the family in Africa’s political, cultural and socioeconomic development, characterizing it as central and indispensable.
South Africa’s representative said three decades of deepening inequalities globally had given rise to new threats to the ideal of a more inclusive world. Those threats were epitomized by political regimes that sought to strengthen exclusionary national economies, he said, adding that “scapegoating and othering people based on any status, whether it be their religion or them being refugees and migrants is … not a solution to dealing with national and global inequities”. If anything, he said, it made the eradication of poverty harder to achieve.
Also making statements today were representatives of Peru, Ghana, Cameroon, Philippines, Romania, Republic of Moldova, Czech Republic, Senegal, Kenya, Botswana, Switzerland, India, Netherlands, Mali, Viet Nam, Benin, Chile and Morocco.
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Source: UN DPI