16 April 2016 – After a full programme that included stops in Beijing, Shandong Province and Shanghai, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi and a delegation of UN youth experts, concluded a successful five-day visit to China. The delegation’s unprecedented visit marks a new era for the UN collaboration with China to advance youth development and programmes in the country. China has the second largest youth population in the world with 272 million young people aged 10-24.
The UN delegation, which was headed by the Youth Envoy, included Ms. Eunice Smith of UNESCO, Ms. Josephine Sauvarin of UNFPA, Ms. Manon Bernier of UNV, Ms. Hao Chen of UNEP, Mr. Douglas Ragan of UN-Habitat, Mr. Valter Nebuloni of ILO, Mr. Matthieu Cognac of ILO, Mr. Gaushan Junjian of UNFPA, Ms. Ying Shou of UNFPA, and Ms. Kaitlin Rau of OSGEY. The visit was facilitated by the UN China Youth Sub-Group, as led by Ms. Soyoltuya Bayaraa of UNFPA and Ms. Jillian Popkins of UNICEF.
In the city of Dezhou and Ningjin County, Alhendawi and the delegation engaged with several youth-led and youth focused organizations, as well as city government officials. With the aim to encourage stronger policies and programming with and for youth throughout China, several thematic issues were discussed, including education, health, youth participation and employment, among others. The delegation visited an ecological garden, which promotes agri-tourism and healthy eating, an economic development zone, a law education center for teenagers, as well as a youth-focused incubator for entrepreneurial ventures. In their interactions with diverse groups of young people, which included numerous young innovators and entrepreneurs, the delegation highlighted the importance of youth contributions to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
After the site visits, the joint delegation met with several government officials, and held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Chen Fei, Mayor of Dezhou. The discussions focused on empowering the local youth population, most specifically though participation in governance, education, and employment opportunities.
On the final day, the joint delegation visited Shanghai, where they met with young people and representatives of the Xuhui Adolescent Health Club, a health center with youth peer education networks supported by UNFPA. The club, one of 30 clubs established by the Shanghai Family Planning Association, is committed to making sexual and reproductive health information readily available to young people, as well as provide access to social and medical services.
Following the visit to the health center, the delegation met with the leadership and students of the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) for a roundtable discussion on youth and the SDGs. The roundtable focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The students had the opportunity to interact with the Youth Envoy and the representatives of UN agencies on how to respond better to youth priorities, as well as galvanize commitment of leaders and youth to expand opportunities for young people.
Later in the day, the UN delegation met with the Shanghai Youth AIDS Health Promotion Center. The center, supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Civil Affairs and primarily focused on the LGBTQ community, provides sexuality education and HIV/AIDS testing and treatment through peer-to-peer education and support. The delegation engaged in informal dialogue on the importance of sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS awareness, and commended the organization for their important work.
The visit concluded with a bilateral meeting with Mr. Liu Wei, Vice President of the Shanghai Youth Federation. Mr. Wei thanked the Envoy for the support provided by the United Nations, while Alhendawi offered the UN’s continued support to youth development in China, as well as stressed the importance of engaging and partnering with young people in developing inclusive youth programming.
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