Press Conference by Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

19 March 2013

Press Conference by Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

19 March 2013
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth


The largest youth population ever seen faces tremendous challenges and complex difficulties, the Secretary-General’s first Envoy on Youth said at Headquarters today.

“Four hundred and twenty-five million jobs need to be created in the next 15 years,” emphasized Ahmad Alhendawi, speaking via videolink from Dakar, Senegal.  “But the facts today about the job market and opportunities for young people are not very promising and require a lot of work.”

Mr. Alhendawi said that at the top of his mandate was addressing the challenges of integrating young people into the job market and ensuring they had better access to quality education as well as opportunities for political participation.  He added that he would focus on facilitating structured mechanisms for participation.

The Envoy said his first task since being appointed last month would be to work with the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, which had recently prepared the final draft of its system-wide action plan to coordinate youth programming among United Nations entities.  That was an important development which would allow joint programming and coordination among agencies while boosting support for youth issues and the youth agenda.

Recalling that working closely with youth was a stated priority area for the Secretary-General’s second term, Mr. Alhendawi said that in his role as Envoy, he would act as a messenger, carrying the voice of the United Nations into programmes for young people, and those of young people back to the United Nations and its agencies.

Emphasizing that his focus was on “facilitating structured mechanisms for participation” by youth, he said the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda was one area in which he was promoting engagement by young people.  His visit to Dakar involved advocacy work to ensure the agenda was youth-friendly and that issues affecting youth were at its heart.  The chance to participate would offer young people an opportunity to “participate in setting the agenda and owning the agenda by implementing and being equal partners in implementation”.

Mr. Alhendawi said that during his first year as Envoy, he would prioritize efforts in education, civic engagement and unemployment, while seeking a greater pooling of the resources of various United Nations agencies to tackle challenges affecting young people.

Asked how he proposed to build the infrastructure for the participation of youth in zones of conflict, he recalled his own experiences working with Iraqi refugees, emphasizing the importance of allowing young people to propose their own ideas about what was most important and appropriate.  One of the ways in which he could support them was by asking their thoughts, he added.

Responding to a question about the importance of social media, he said it was of great importance, largely because of how proactive it allowed young people to be.  However, he also underscored the importance of traditional media.

Asked how the United Nations was promoting youth employment, he cited his own case, noting that he had been appointed Envoy at the age of 28.  That showed that the Secretary-General believed in supporting young people, he said.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.