On Wednesday 19th of July, the newly appointed UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, participated in the High Level event “Youth and the SDGs: From Local Roots to Global Reality”.
At this event, young advocates joined Ministers from Denmark, Indonesia and Ethiopia in a lively discussion on how to promote an enabling environment for young people’s inclusive participation in the follow up and review of the SDGs .
In his presentation on how Denmark has engaged young people, Minister of Finance H.E. Kristian Jensen stressed Denmark’s commitment to integrating the human rights of young people into the Human Rights Council, should Denmark be elected to the Council. The Danish Youth Delegate, Ms. Clara Halvorsen added that it doesn’t matter how many times young people are mentioned in the Voluntary National Reviews, young people need to be included in the VNR process as equal partners.
Sharing reflections from Indonesia, Minister of National Development H.E. Bambang P.S. Brodjonegoro explained that Indonesia encourages youth participation in three pillars: awareness-raising for youth who still have limited access to information, empowerment for youth who are already aware that they can participate and engage, and empowerment to help youth engage in programmes to collaborate with the government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations.
Minister, National Planning Commission of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Yinage Dessie debunked the misconception that unemployed young people pose a threat to peace and security, stressing that youth unemployment should be seen as a potential opportunity rather than a problem.
UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake followed these remarks with a tribute to the numerous youth-led organizations across the globe that meaningfully contribute to the implementation of the SDGs every day and called for their recognition: “Young people find creative and innovative informal ways to participate. Whether this is through their own development work, campaigns to improve meaningful youth participation, shadow reporting, providing citizen-generated data, designing their own youth-led monitoring frameworks or championing awareness of the Goals at the local and national level – they are committed to making the 2030 Agenda a success.”
The event provided a platform for young advocates who have led their own monitoring and accountability processes inside and outside formal government structures.
Speaking of the importance of formal engagement through national Youth Councils, the official youth delegate from the Netherlands, Mr. Max van Deursen, elaborated on his experience contributing to and presenting the Dutch National Voluntary Review.
Ms. Ashley Ngwenya from the Act!2030 Alliance on the other hand shared her experience in creating a shadow report on SDG implementation: “invest in young people, we are ready, we are energetic, we are mobilized.”
Mr. Peter Otiende, Restless Development Accountability Advocate, talked about his work to collect complementary data and monitor progress of the SDGs in Kenya: I believe youth-informed data collection is very influential.
The event was live streamed on Facebook making it possible for young people around the world to follow and participate in the debate online.
Director Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Policy and Programme Support, ended the event with a clear call to action: “listening to young people is important, but responding to young people is even more important”.
The event took place on the side lines of this years’ UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), which has been established as the central space at the global level for the monitoring, follow-up and review for progress on the SDGs. Member States have committed to provide regular assessments on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level, and the 2017 HLPF will host the second round of voluntary reports from 43 Members States.
The event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, United Nations Development Programme, Restless Development and the Major Group for Children and Youth.
The inclusion of youth priorities and meaningful youth engagement in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is one of the key focus areas of work of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and the office is currently co-chairing the UN Interagency Working Group on Youth and the 2030 Agenda together with UNDP.