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Young people must be at the heart of government plans for the future

6 June 2018

Young people must be at the heart of government plans for the future, the Commonwealth Secretariat has said at a UN meeting.

Speaking at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Commonwealth’s Head of Social Policy urged decision-makers to involve youth advocates in investing for future generations.

Sharing a powerful message from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting earlier this year in London, Layne Robinson said, “We must integrate young people at all stages of development planning”. He also spoke of the need to support and celebrate the people who are working with young people through education, training and investment.

“The Commonwealth Heads of Government made commitments to mainstreaming youth priorities into national development policies and plans, and to promote the participation of young people at all levels of decision-making at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April 2018. The impact of this Youth Dialogue hosted by the President of the UN’s General Assembly emboldens the importance of young people’s voices, ideas and needs in driving this forward”.

The one-day youth dialogue event was hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, at its headquarters in New York.

The event was part of Mr Lajčák’s ongoing commitment to bringing the UN closer to young people and an effort to galvanize existing efforts and forge new partnerships to empower young people. The Youth Dialogue was a platform for young people to speak about their ideas, needs and concerns and focused on education, skills training, employment and the prevention of radicalisation

On opening the event, Mr Lajčák said that it was about hearing young people, not talking about them or to them.

Shamoy Hajare, who was the Regional Winner for Caribbean and Americas of the Commonwealth Youth Award in 2016 spoke on a panel at the event on how to bridge the gap between education and youth employment.

 “Youth72 reflected the need for leaders to see the value in creating an enabling environment for young people to tap into blue and green economic pathways to drive sustainable development and create jobs. The UN and the Commonwealth understand this need and act through commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals and the Blue Charter. Young people want to share their knowledge and be taken seriously as key partners; the Youth72 dialogue delivered on this objective, and we need to have more opportunities like this.”

Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Tijani Christian also engaged at the UN this week, speaking at an event to bring together young people from the four linguistic regions of English, French, Spanish and Portuguese with the organisations of Ibero-American General Secretariat, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, and Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries. He was asked to serve on a working committee to explore cooperation between young people in these language groups.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Michaëlle Jean, the Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Rebecca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat, and Maria do Carmo Silveira, Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries all expressed their shared vision of an integrated approach to tackle common youth challenges.