UN Youth Delegates call for meaningful work, inclusion in decision-making

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its debate on social development today, with youth delegates demanding greater access to education and job opportunities, as well as a voice in decisions that will help them overcome entrenched marginalization.

Young people from around the world raised a range of concerns, including climate change, stark societal divides and lack of equal opportunity.  Youth delegates from Ireland deplored the reigning economic model that destroys the planet, creates inequalities, and fails to provide young people meaningful and stable work.  Such a system fails young people, and betrays their faith in meritocracy, they added.  Echoing their views was the youth delegate from Sweden, who asserted that a society that does not consider the perspectives of young people would design faulty policies and visions.

Their counterpart from Georgia underscored the role of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in ensuring the inclusion of those who are marginalized in more than one way.  Citing the example of a schoolmate who is blind and unable to visit her family in Abkhazia, which is currently “occupied by the Russian Federation”, she noted that vulnerable young people face multiple barriers, in education, free movement and decision-making.  In a similar vein, a youth delegate from Ukraine — whose father had fled the Taliban — spotlighted the “bullets flying in the heart of Europe” in “occupied Donbas and Crimea”, and stressed that sustainable development is not possible without protecting the rights of the conflict-affected.

Meanwhile, the youth delegate from the Netherlands expressed concern about stark and widening societal divides and polarization, which are exacerbated by social media “echo bubbles” — platforms that instead could be used to bridge societal divides and bring people together, she added.

Several delegations joined such calls.  Suriname’s representative highlighted the importance of amplifying young people’s voices and cited United Nations data revealing that 783 million people live below the international poverty line.  Such numbers are “anxiety-provoking”, considering that young people account for 16 per cent of the global population, he stressed.  Expanding access to education can help combat poverty.

Other delegates described their countries’ efforts to strengthen social safety nets to ensure more equitable development, with China’s representative pointing to policies that lifted 850 million people out of poverty, and Namibia’s delegate detailing its programmes to widen health care access and extend the social safety net to those impacted by climate change.  Meanwhile, several speakers described how targeted policies have enabled them to reach vulnerable groups.  In that context, Nepal’s delegate described cash transfers that his Government has extended to the elderly, people with disabilities, Dalits and endangered ethnicities.

Migration was another common theme raised throughout the day, both as a promise and as a challenge.  For Cameroon’s representative, migration could alleviate inequalities by widening access to opportunities.  Colombia’s delegate, however, said that his country’s social infrastructure was overwhelmed by the 1.4 million Venezuelans who had sought refuge there and called for international assistance to help meet their needs.

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Source: UN DGC