Young people attending a meeting at the Commonwealth Secretariat to review the UN High-Level Panel Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda have called for a specific goal focused on the empowerment and development of young people.
While commending the High-Level Panel for maintaining focus on sustainable development and poverty eradication, and for its consultative approach, they said the report could have been stronger on addressing the needs and potential of young people.
The meeting took place on Friday, 28 June and was convened by Commonwealth youth leaders keen to give their feedback on a report and process that will be crucial to their futures. Participants included youth advocates and UK-based students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe.
In their recommendations, they said it was not enough to assume the inclusion of young people within the proposed development goals and called for a youth-specific goal and youth-specific targets to ensure that young people are not left behind.
The UN High-Level Panel was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise on the development agenda beyond 2015. Its report entitled A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development sets out five key shifts that the world should make to continue on a strong development path after 2015 when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end.
They said: “As we welcome the specific goal on women and girls, so we would like to see a specific goal on young people, on equal terms.”
Building young people’s capacity and prospects with education relevant to the job market was also needed to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, they said.
“Young people not only want to find jobs, but to create jobs too – hence a need to establish specific targets on the culture of entrepreneurship and provision of start-up and mentoring support for youth-led enterprises,” they added.
Chair of the meeting, Messeh Leone, noted that young people are not just asking for something. “We are also offering to contribute something to The World We Want,” he said, leveraging the UN's slogan for the post-2015 agenda.
"Engaging today’s young people not only gives them a role in implementing the post-2015 agenda, but invites young people to hold leaders accountable for their promises,” he added.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that meeting the democratic, economic and social transformation challenges that young people face can only be done with their participation.
“Beyond 2015 we must be able to show that it is not just a continuation of the same. There will be a number of goals, and all of them will be important, but one of the ways to show that we are thinking differently after 15 years is by making it absolutely evident that young people are at the heart of it,” the Secretary-General said.
Over 30 participants attended the meeting, and were joined by James Alawi, Policy and Outreach Manager – Post 2015 in the Office of the UK British Prime Minister and Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The UK Prime Minister is one of the co-chairs of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.