Statement at the UN #Youth2030 Strategy Launch
Distinguished delegates, colleagues,
Good afternoon and many congratulations to all on this historic day. I am Jolly Amatya from Nepal, and I am speaking on behalf of the UNMGCY - the United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth.
This is the General Assembly created and mandated mechanism for young people to engage in the UN with the membership of over 6000 youth entities in over 170 countries and territories. Originally created as an outcome of Agenda 21 and enhanced with the Rio+20 outcome in 2012 that made sustainable development a systemwide approach, it works collectively on Advocacy, Capacity-building, Knowledge, and Action in over 100 engagement avenues at the UN.
We have contributed throughout the process of development of this strategy.
As we strive to tackle the complex problems of today’s increasingly interdependent, yet entrenched, unequal and unsustainable world, the question of the moment is: Why should we partner with young people?
The substantive areas outlined in the strategy offer a comprehensive starting point. The success of this strategy will determine the success of the UN. It is time to invest in this success, through what the UN calls the ‘financing and the means of implementation’.
This case needs no further elaboration.
The launch of this strategy and your presence is testament to the indispensability of this fact.
The real question then is: how do we partner with youth?
The powers that be, seem to realise the incredible amount of untapped potential in the young people of the world. ‘Youth Engagement’’ is now a buzzword and everyone wants to do it.
But, make no mistake, the only proof of an entity’s genuine commitment is its gumption to create environments that enable meaningful engagement. Thankfully, demystifying ‘meaningful’ is not as complicated as some may think.
The principles and barriers of meaningful engagement have been advocated for and endorsed by many in this room, UN entities, member states and other partners. For any engagement to be meaningful it has to be legally mandated, self organised, designated, well resourced and accountable. At the same time, some of the impediments to this include individualisation, lack of resources, and regressive normative framing.
We want to take this moment to emphasise our commitment, enthusiasm and eagerness to play an institutional role in the coordination, governance and operationalisation of the strategy.
Having said that, we also want to state that we are not naive. While we are all celebrating this launch, there are entities present, that promote programs that disregard serious concerns of youth constituencies and proactively undermine meaningful youth engagement by promoting hand picked individualisation with huge opportunity cost.
The youth envoy has famously said that “young people need to claim their space and be unapologetic.”
Ironically, as discussed at the ECOSOC youth forum, “we need to actively support the formation of youth-led entities and youth-driven areas of work to begin to claim inclusive development. It is time to actively support youth led organizations – they not only light fires but keep them alive. We stand ready to to work together! We are here for the same goal. It is not enough to hand pick one individual, one spokesperson or one leader for a seat at the table – it is about awakening and engaging all young people through community and supporting the mechanisms of adequate facilitation through principles of meaningful engagement.
Make no mistake, young people will carry on the work whether they are included or not. And to many, this right is a responsibility bound to their hearts. They are not going to stand and wait for a seat at the table.
In spite of the difficulties we face in our communities and avenues like these, we’re already here and out in the world dreaming and doing. We invite you to join us.