The United Nations Envoy for Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, addressed Commonwealth youth ministers today at the start of their meeting by calling for a rethink and re-debate around youth development.
Noting that there were around 990 days left until the 2015 deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mr Alhendawi spoke of the complex challenges still facing the 1.2 billion young people across the globe, 90 per cent of whom are living in developing countries.
“This puts tremendous challenges on all of us to address the needs and demands of young people,” he said, citing poverty, lack of decent job opportunities and the lack of adequate education as issues shared by young people across the globe.
"The challenges will put more pressure on all of us to ensure that any post-2015 agenda is focusing in the first place on partnerships." Young people are part of setting this global development agenda.
He continued: “The new development agenda is not just a wish list for the world we want. It is not a mental exercise. The world we want is a development contract that should bring everybody on board. It is a contract in defining obligations and responsibilities and even benefits for everyone to make sure that the world we want is a shared responsibility for all of us.
"It is not only the job of member states. It is not only the job of the United Nations. It is not only the job of foundations or the private sector. It is the job of everyone, and young people should not only be the driving force for achieving the MDGs and the post-MDGs, but they should be in the driving seat for reaching these goals, as well.
The meeting, which spans three days, is taking place in Papua New Guinea’s capital city Port Moresby.
Ministers also heard from youth leaders about the proposed Commonwealth Youth Council, a youth-led, democratic and independent body, which will allow young people across the Commonwealth to be represented in global fora on issues that impact them.