The Inter-Parliamentary Union”s 3rd Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians kicked off Wednesday in the capital city of Lusaka, Zambia. Convened under the theme “Agenda 2030: Youth leading the way, leaving no one behind”, the 2-day conference will discuss youth engagement in the implementation of the SDGs through parliamentary actions.

In opening remarks on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, noted that the young parliamentarians will be a major partner in driving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development by advocating to create necessary enabling environments for youth engagement in the implementation of the SDGs. He added that convening this conference in Africa sends an important message about the potential of African youth in making a huge leap for development and sustainability.

“Young people’s experiences of engagement or alienation – their inclusion or marginalization – will determine whether we manage to deliver a more sustainable future by 2030 or miss this historic opportunity”- noted Alhendawi.


Day 1 in Zambia, 16 March 2016

The Secretary-General”s Envoy on Youth also highlighted the importance of the strong partnership the United Nations had established with the IPU and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. He added that “through the commitment of the young parliamentarians we could further promote and advocate for young people’s rights and participation around the world”. Alhendawi went on to call on young parliamentarians to continue acting as the role models for millions of young people and encourage their engagement in political life.

IPU has also released on Wednesday the Youth participation in national parliaments 2016 report. The report reveals that only 1.9% of the world’s 45,000 parliamentarians are aged below 30. Key recommendations for action from the report include youth quotas, designing strategies to address disparities between young men and women entering parliaments, and aligning minimum age for parliamentary candidacies with the minimum voting age to increase young people”s access to parliaments.

The opening ceremony of the 3rd Conference of Young Parliamentarians was also addressed Wednesday by Mr. Patrick Matibini, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Mr. Saber Chowdhury, President of the IPU, and Mr. Vincent Mwale, Minister of Youth and Sports of Zambia.

Over the course of the next two days, 140 young parliamentarians from 55 countries will discuss the role of youth in delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The discussion will focus on enhancing youth participation in the political processes, the rights of future generations and impacts of climate change on sustainable development, and economic models for fair and equitable development. A final report will be produced as a result of the Conference capturing key discussion points and recommendations.

The Conference precedes the 134th IPU Assembly, which will be attended by 650 MPs and 82 speakers or deputy speakers of national parliaments. The Assembly will aim to identify ways to reverse low voter turnouts and a waning youth interest in formal politics – a critical step towards safeguarding and strengthening democracy in all cultures. It will also be an opportunity to explore innovative ideas that enhance and modernize democratic culture, institutions and practice.

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