On October 13-14, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth took part in the 2016 UNV Partnerships Forum in Bonn, Germany, co-organized by the UN Volunteer Programme (UNV) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Saskia Schellekens, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, delivered the keynote address at the forum, which this year focused on “Revitalizing Partnerships—Volunteerism for the Sustainable Development Goals.” 

In her remarks, Ms. Schellekens underscored the important role young people play in strengthening partnerships across different sectors—a crucial step in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“There seems to be a clear and widely-shared recognition on the role of partnerships and young people to address the world’s most pressing problems and set humanity on a course of prosperity and sustainability,” Ms. Schellekens said. “But unless we involve young people and create the conditions that allow them to reach and unleash their full potential, the SDGs can’t be achieved.”

One challenge young people face today, Ms. Schellekens continued, is that they are far too often portrayed as problems or liabilities. This can be countered by amplifying the voices of young women and men, letting their actions speak for themselves and engaging them in decision-making processes.

“The vast majority of young people around the world are idealists, with strong values, and a commitment to peace and development,” she said.

The two-day event gathered over 200 of representatives of governments, UN agencies, civil society—and in particular volunteer organizations—from around the globe to discuss the added value of volunteerism for peace and development and its contribution to the SDGs, while at the same time building on UNV’s previous and current work.

The Forum was kicked off by Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of UNV, who underscored how “volunteerism helps ground the UN and offers the biggest opportunity for people to own the SDGs.”

A mixture of plenary sessions, roundtables and panel discussions, the forum addressed the topics of: Partnering with the Private Sector for the SDGs; South-South Cooperation; Data and Measurement of the SDGs; Innovation for the SDGs; the UNV Full Funding Programme and the Impact of Volunteers’ Contributions for the SDGs.

During her time stay in Bonn, Ms. Schellekens had a series of bilateral meetings. These included a meeting with Ms. Alexandra Solovieva, Chief of the Programme Coordination Section at UNV, and her team to discuss the UN Youth Volunteers program and UNV’s partnerships with youth organizations and networks.

She also met with H.E. Mr. Mounouna Foutsou, Minister of Youth and Civic Education of Cameroon and had the opportunity to visit the Bonn-based UNESCO-UNEVOC (International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training), where she met with the head of the office, Mr. Shyamal Majumdar.  

In her meeting, Ms. Schellekens learned about the important work of the Office in coordinating a vast network of UNEVOC centers around the world in support of developing local capacities for Technical and Vocational Training, in particular for youth.

Read the full remarks at the Forum here.